Rangers 1 Blue Jays 0
ARLINGTON, Texas — Another pitching gem by Kevin Millwood and some standout defence kept the Texas Rangers from being swept by Toronto.
With the offence struggling, the American League West-leading Rangers proved they can win with pitching and defence.
Millwood threw 7 2-3 scoreless innings Thursday night against the Blue Jays, and the Rangers went on for only its fourth 1-0 victory in 16 seasons since moving into Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
“Tonight, that’s all we needed,” manager Ron Washington said. “We needed to get a win, and it doesn’t matter how you get it. … We are going to get it together offensively. Everybody can go in a little rut. But our heads are high. We just won a 1-0 game in Arlington.”
Texas, which didn’t homer in the rain-shortened three-game series and lost 9-0 in the previous game Tuesday, got its run when Marlon Byrd hit a sacrifice fly in the second off Ricky Romero (3-3).
“That’s what good teams do. You can’t play 10-8 games every night,” said David Murphy, who followed Nelson Cruz’s leadoff single with a double to set up Byrd’s flyball. “We’re not doing what we’re capable of, but it takes the pressure off of us when the pitchers go out doing what they’re doing.”
Millwood (6-4) gave up five hits with one strikeout and hit a batter while throwing 105 pitches against the Blue Jays, who were shut out for only the second time.
The right-hander has allowed two earned runs over 20 2-3 innings his last three starts. The last two victories followed lopsided losses by Texas.
“It shows we can win in different ways,” Millwood said. “My stuff wasn’t great, but I felt like I was able to locate and kept them off balance. We caught the ball when they hit it.”
After Marco Scutaro grounded out on the game’s first pitch, Millwood gave up consecutive singles before retiring 18 of the next 19 batters into the seventh.
Darren O’Day got Alex Rios to ground out after taking over with a runner at second and two outs in the eighth, then Vernon Wells popped out to open the ninth. The side-winding right-hander has thrown nine scoreless innings his past nine appearances.
C.J. Wilson allowed a double to Adam Lind before getting the final two outs for his sixth save in seven chances.
“Kevin set the tone,” Wilson said. “All Darren and I had to do was throw strikes and let guys get themselves out.”
Romero limited Texas to one run and five hits over 6 1-3 innings, his best outing since returning from the disabled list (oblique strain). The left-hander had allowed 13 earned runs and seven home runs over 16 1-3 innings his previous three starts.
“It’s a big confidence,” Romero said.
“It was nice to see him pitch that well,” manager Cito Gaston said. “We just couldn’t get the hit when we needed it. Any loss is tough, but when a guy pitches that well and we had a chance in the first inning to drive in some runs and we didn’t do it.”