Millar powers Orioles past Rangers
First baseman slugs two homers to back sharp Guthrie
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have notched victories this season in a myriad of ways, but an old-fashioned blowout coupled with shutdown starting pitching has seemed to elude them.
That was not the case on Friday night, as the Orioles' offense teed off on the Rangers -- led by two homers from first baseman Kevin Millar -- and staff ace Jeremy Guthrie turned in another stellar performance as Baltimore cruised to a 9-1 victory at Camden Yards.
"[He was] coming off a complete game, and he picked right up where he left off," manager Dave Trembley said of Guthrie. "I think we all said before he was better than [his record], and I think he'll continue to get better. It's nice we scored some runs for him."
Baltimore scored them early and often, getting multi-RBI performances around the infield from Millar, Brian Roberts, Ramon Hernandez and Juan Castro.
The Orioles started attacking Rangers starter Luis Mendoza in the second inning and didn't stop until they'd driven the right-hander from the game. Mendoza lasted just three innings, allowing allowed five earned runs.
Texas' offense, by contrast, was kept quiet by Guthrie, who threw seven innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out four and walking one. The lone blemish on his night was Travis Metcalf's homer to right in the fifth inning, but otherwise, Guthrie (9-8) cruised to his third consecutive victory.
"The guy is getting recognized as a legitimate top-of-the-order rotation guy for any team in the big leagues," Trembley said. "That's how I see Jeremy Guthrie, and I'm glad a lot of other people are starting to recognize what he's all about. He's for real."
Guthrie was effective with almost all of his pitches, especially his slider, which he used in a number of crucial situations. In the third inning, for instance, the Rangers threatened to cut into the Orioles' 3-0 lead. Guthrie turned to his slider against Michael Young, getting the shortstop to ground out to end the inning.
"For the most part, I think we worked down, and that's what you have to do against this team," Guthrie said. "Even ahead, 7-1, you have to realize that they can have a big inning. ... [The slider] was a good pitch and I didn't miss with it too often, and that's the big key."
Baltimore's scoring binge began in the second, when Castro sent a sacrifice fly to center, plating the Orioles' first run. One batter later, Roberts turned on a 3-2 pitch and sent it down the first-base line, just between Rangers first baseman Chris Davis and foul ground. The result was a two-run double, giving the O's a 3-0 lead.
Enter Millar. With Aubrey Huff on first base via a leadoff single in the third, Millar took Mendoza's 1-1 offering and deposited it just over the left-field wall for a 5-0 lead. Two innings later, Millar hit his second homer of the night and 18th of the year.
"He was a nice complement tonight behind Huff," Trembley said. "You could see what they were doing to Huff -- offspeed, offspeed, offspeed -- and Millar came up there behind him and kind of equalized it."
It was Millar's eighth two-homer game of his career and third of the season. But more importantly for the Orioles, Millar was able to make the Rangers pay for pitching around Huff.
"I'm a big guess hitter," Millar said. "I don't have the ability just to go out there and see the ball, react on breaking balls and hit them as far as Josh Hamilton. I've got to really work, and part of that is watching video and knowing the pitchers and seeing the tendencies.
"It was a great effort. Jeremy Guthrie sets the tone. He's been throwing unbelievable, and we were able to swing the bats and score some runs. He shut down a very good offensive club tonight, so that was a big 'W.'"
Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.