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Sweet 16: Millwood gets win as Rangers handle Mariners

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Kevin Millwood wasn't like so many other
pitchers the Rangers have tried to persuade to come to Texas. Their
hitter-friendly ballpark didn't bother him.

Not even after he lost his first two starts there.

"I stuck to my guns. The field doesn't bother me, and it still
doesn't," Millwood said. "I just finally got to where I was
pitching a little better and getting a few wins here."

Millwood allowed one run over seven innings for his 16th victory
-- his fourth straight at home -- in the Rangers' 8-1 win over the
Seattle Mariners on Monday night.

After leading the AL in ERA last season, the free agent signed a
$60 million, five-year contract. He lost to Boston in the season
opener and was 1-3 in his first five home starts. Only now does he
have a winning record (7-6) there.

"He didn't look around and say, `Oh my goodness, it's this,
it's this," manager Buck Showalter said. "He said, `I'm not real
sure, but I'm going to go out there every fifth day and if I'm good
enough, it'll work out over the long haul."

It has for Millwood (16-10), who surpassed the 200-inning mark
for the first time since 2003. The right-hander has won 16 games
for the fourth time, the most since he was 18-8 for Atlanta in
2002.

"I just wanted to pitch well," said Millwood, whose last two
scheduled starts include the home finale Sunday. "So far, it's
turned out to be an OK season."

Michael Young and Gary Matthews Jr. both had their third
straight multihit games and Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer for
the Rangers.

Young went 2-for-4 with his 49th double to increase his major
league-leading total to 205 hits. That's two more than Seattle's
Ichiro Suzuki, who went 0-for-4. Matthews was 3-for-5.

Carlos Lee put the Rangers up with a two-run double in the third
after Matthews singled and Young hit a double to right. Hank
Blalock followed with another double to make it 3-0. Matthews had a
leadoff single in the fifth and scored on an error.

With 11 games left, the Rangers extended their team record for
doubles to 340 -- 33 shy of the major league record shared by the
St. Louis Cardinals (1930) and Boston Red Sox (1997 and 2004).
Young matched Rafael Palmeiro (1991) for second on Texas' season
list, one shy of Juan Gonzalez's 50 in 1998.

Felix Hernandez (11-14), Seattle's 20-year-old right-hander in
his second season, matched his season high with nine strikeouts in
five innings, but he gave up four runs and five hits.

"I don't really care about striking people out," Hernandez
said. "Most of the time when I do that, my pitch count is pretty
high and I don't get past five or six innings."

After No. 2 hitter Adrian Beltre had a single in the first,
Millwood didn't allow another hit until Raul Ibanez led off the
seventh with a double -- a liner that bounced off the extended glove
of Matthews, the All-Star center fielder.

"I didn't see him pitch with the Indians or here with such
consistent velocity as he did tonight. He was between 92 and 96
mph," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He had good stuff."

Millwood allowed four hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
He has a 2.40 ERA his last four home appearances.

Richie Sexson followed Ibanez's double with a single before
Yuniesky Betancourt's sacrifice fly made it 5-1.

Hernandez is 1-5 with an 8.63 ERA his last eight starts. He
allowed one run in two of his no-decisions and the only win in that
span was a five-hit shutout against the Los Angeles Angels on Aug.
18.

Game notes
Young is hitting .403 (29-of-72) with 10 multihit games in
September, raising his average from .296 to .317. The All-Star SS
was the AL batting champion last season at .331. ... Seattle's
Kenji Johjima and Jose Lopez both had 10-game hitting streaks
snapped. ... Beltre has an eight-game hitting streak during which
he is hitting .406 (13-for-32) after an 0-for-22 skid. ... Matthews
has scored 97 runs. The only Rangers leadoff hitter to score 100
was Oddibe McDowell with 101 in 1986.