Rangers chase Webb as Millwood stymies Diamondbacks

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Kevin Millwood was inducing groundballs for outs.

Major-league ERA leader Brandon Webb was also getting a lot of grounders as usual, except those by the Texas Rangers kept finding
holes for hits.

Taking advantage of the grounders from both sides, Millwood pitched into the eighth inning to win his fifth straight decision in the Rangers' 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night.

"Kevin had to pitch like he did to keep us in it," manager Buck Showalter said. "He was sharp. ... We were wondering there for a while, obviously [Webb] is a sinker-ball pitcher, but Kevin got a lot of groundballs too."

Millwood (8-3) pitched 7 1/3 innings, not allowing a run until the eighth. He got 11 groundball outs with four strikeouts and two walks.

Texas grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first with five hits, three of them infield singles -- one by Mark DeRosa driving in a run -- along with a groundball hit through the left side of the infield. Brad Wilkerson then had a two-run double, a soft liner to left that short-hopped and got by Luis Gonzalez after he lost it in the sun.

"They had very few hard-hit balls. Brandon just didn't have much luck," manager Bob Melvin said.

"There's nothing anybody could do. They were hitting them soft, and they had some fast guys," Webb said. "Then there's the sun ball to Gonzo. He couldn't see it."

Webb (8-2) allowed five runs and 10 hits over 5 2/3 innings, pushing his ERA from 2.06 to 2.37 -- still the best in the majors -- and losing his second straight start. He struck out six with no walks and threw a season-high 116 pitches (79 strikes).

Wilkerson went 3-for-4, with all his hits coming off Webb. Wilkerson's team-leading 13th home run came in the sixth inning.

"You've got to try to get him up in the zone. He's going to make a mistake eventually," Wilkerson said. "We wanted to jump on him early. After the first inning he settled down."

After Wilkerson's solo homer in the sixth, Rod Barajas had a
two-out RBI double to chase Webb.

Webb came into the game leading the majors with 180 groundball outs and added to that total with five in the next six outs after two strikeouts to escape the first. After Wilkerson's leadoff single and stolen base in the fourth, Webb struck out the side.

Millwood retired the first eight batters he faced, seven of them grounders -- five handled by rookie second baseman Ian Kinsler. When
the Diamondbacks had two on in the fourth, the right-hander got out of the jam with another grounder to Kinsler.

"I got the infielders and outfielders a lot of work," Millwood said. "I was trying to make pitches and trying to get them to hit the ball at our guys. And they made the plays. ... Ian's going to be tired."

The Diamondbacks had only three singles until Orlando Hudson led
off the eighth with a double. Craig Counsell and Gonzalez then had RBI singles, the latter on Millwood's 100th and last pitch.

Francisco Cordero came on to allow a sacrifice fly by Conor Jackson before an inning-ending grounder. Akinori Otsuka worked the ninth for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Millwood's last loss was May 9 against Minnesota, when he gave up nine runs in 1 1/3 innings. He is 5-0 with a 3.77 ERA in seven starts since.

Millwood, last year's AL ERA champion who signed a $60 million, five-year deal last winter to be the Rangers' No. 1 starter, improved to 6-1 with a 1.93 ERA in nine career starts against Arizona.

Hudson and Gonzalez both had two hits for the Diamondbacks, whose first interleague game started a seven-game trip after a 1-9 homestand.

"This can't last," Webb said. "We'll come out of this and start and winning streak."

Game notes
Hudson is 6-for-8 in his career vs. Millwood, including the first hit Friday night. ... Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock collided with first baseman Mark Teixeira on an inning-ending infield popout in the sixth. Blalock came all the way across the infield and was calling for the ball along with Teixeira when they collided. Both fell to the ground and then got up smiling -- Teixeira holding open his glove to show Blalock the ball. Teixeira had a slight bruise on his face after the game. ... Showalter was in the other dugout when the teams last played in 2000 in Arlington. Showalter was Arizona's first manager, going 250-236 overall from 1998-2000 -- 6-10 vs. Texas. ... Texas is 2-2 in interleague play this season.