Mariners take series behind Millwood's solid start

Mariners take series behind Millwood's solid start

Mariners take series behind Millwood's solid start
SEATTLE -- Kevin Millwood isn't accustomed to getting much run support. On Tuesday, he made do with the little that was given to him.

Millwood pitched six innings of one-run ball to earn his first win since July 28 and lead the Mariners to a 2-1 victory over the Red Sox. In taking took two of three from the slumping Sox, Seattle (67-71) has matched its win total from last season with 24 games remaining.

"It should mean something to them," manager Eric Wedge said. "These guys have worked hard to get better and they are better, and they're going to keep getting better. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now, as well they should be."

Millwood improved to just 5-12 this season -- breaking a personal four-game losing streak -- but the veteran has constantly been the unfortunate recipient of poor run support. In his last seven starts, the Mariners have scored more than three runs just once.

On Tuesday, Millwood needed just the two that he was given, limiting the Red Sox to just one run on four hits. The 37-year-old right-hander walked three and had to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but he also struck out three and limited the number of hard-hit balls.

"He did a good job keeping it out of the middle of the plate," Boston's Dustin Pedroia said. "He kept the balls on the corner and kept us off balance -- he's done it for a long time now and he knows how to pitch."

"He threw the ball well tonight," Wedge said. "He worked his way through that last inning and kept us with the lead. Really had to make some pitches there those last two hitters, did a good job. His fastball was down, had his breaking ball from early on. Always does a good job of moving the baseball back and forth on the plate. Just pitched a real good ballgame tonight."

Meanwhile, the Mariners did nearly everything on offense but give their starter a comfortable lead. Boston starter Aaron Cook struggled, giving up seven hits and walking three, but he was adept at leaving runners on base. The Mariners left nine men on base and were just 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Luckily for Seattle, Dustin Ackley broke that trend in the fourth, singling sharply up the middle to plate a pair.

Eric Thames led off the frame with a single and moved to second when Mike Carp drew a walk. Casper Wells then singled through the left side to load the bases. After Brendan Ryan popped out to second, Ackley came through to put the Mariners ahead, 2-0.

Ackley is now hitting .636 (7-for-11) with 12 RBIs with the bases loaded this season, including 6-for-6 with less than two outs.

"I had no idea," Ackley said. "With the way the year's kind of been going, I didn't expect those kind of numbers to be like they were, for sure. I'm glad those numbers are where they are. That's important to get those runs in with less than two outs."

Despite the inability to plate a run outside the Ackley single, the offensive performance was much better than when Cook threw a two-hit, 81-pitch shutout at Safeco in June.

"It was so much better. I think he had the same pitch total halfway through the game that he ended up with the entire game the last time," Wedge said. "Made him work, thought we had some tough ABs. We got our base hits, but we also had some hard outs. I thought our approach was much better today."

The Red Sox came back in the sixth to cut into the lead. Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a fielder's choice and swiped second. Cody Ross followed with an RBI double into the right-field corner and Ellsbury scampered home without a throw.

But the Mariners bullpen shut down the Red Sox from that point on, putting together three scoreless innings. Seattle relievers have now tossed 8 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings and have allowed just one earned run in the month of September.

"Millwood gave us every chance to win, but those guys had to come in and get it done in a tight ballgame," Wedge said of the bullpen. "Everybody to a man did a great job. We did a lot of mixing and matching tonight and everybody that came in was really fantastic tonight."

Josh Liebeskind is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.