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Troubles pop up again for Millwood in loss

Troubles pop up again for Millwood in loss

BALTIMORE -- Kevin Millwood has battled through many problems this season. Lack of run support, first-inning troubles, giving up too many homers -- all of those things have plagued the veteran right-hander in his first year with the Orioles.

He dealt with some of those troubles again Sunday when the Rangers beat the Orioles, 6-4, before 14,788 at Camden Yards. Millwood gave up two three-run homers -- one of which came before he even retired a batter -- to give Texas a lead it never lost.

Millwood (2-14) has lost six in a row and is winless since June 24. He continues to look for his first win of the season against an American League team. This was Millwood's 400th career start.

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He has now given up 102 runs overall -- 38 of which have come in the opening frame. In addition. Millwood has given up 26 homers this season, 19 of which have come at Camden Yards.

"It's a lot less fun than winning a whole bunch of games, no doubt about that," Millwood said. "I worry about the stuff I can control, and that is getting people out and making good pitches."

He gave up six runs on six hits in six innings and pitched well at times. But the problems began right from the start. After a 21-minute rain delay, Elvis Andrus led off with a single over second baseman Brian Roberts' head. Michael Young then walked before Josh Hamilton sent his 28th homer into the left-field seats on the first pitch.

"Any time you score in the first inning and jump out to an early lead, it helps your confidence tremendously," Hamilton said. "Especially against the Orioles, they've been doing a good job."

Millwood recovered after that and didn't have any trouble until Texas (69-54) found its power again in the fifth. After Nick Markakis got an RBI single for the Orioles (44-81) in the fourth, Vladimir Guerrero answered with a three-run homer to make it 6-1.

The Orioles scored just one run while Millwood was in the game.

"Kevin's as professional a guy as I've been around, and he understands there's certain things out of his control," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You'd like to pitch with some margin of error now and then, [since that] certainly frees up a lot of things mentally. But we weren't able to provide that again today."

Texas starter Tommy Hunter (10-2) made sure of that. He kept most of his pitches down and didn't give the Orioles much to swing at in his eight-inning stint. Hunter allowed three runs on five hits and didn't walk or strike out anyone.

Luke Scott hit a two-run homer off Hunter in the sixth, and Ty Wigginton added a solo shot off closer Neftali Feliz in the ninth.

Scott continued his second-half hot streak with that homer, one of the few mistakes Hunter made all day. It was Scott's 100th career homer.

He has been on a roll throughout much of the second half and is now batting .355 with seven homers and 16 RBIs this month.

"I look at [the 100 homers] as a blessing," Scott said. "I'm very blessed to play this game. To have a chance to hit 100 home runs at the Major League level, it's something that I'm humbled by. I'm thankful because it's been a lot of fun."

The Orioles' bullpen also had some fun as Rick VandenHurk, Mark Hendrickson and Matt Albers each threw a scoreless inning. VandenHurk made his Baltimore debut in style by striking out two batters and picking off another.

The Orioles would like to see Millwood have some more fun soon. He has run into every kind of bad break imaginable this season. In his last start, the right-hander gave up just one run over eight innings, but the Orioles didn't score any, as the Mariners handed them a 4-0 loss.

But Millwood's first-inning woes seem to be causing the most trouble. He has now given up at least two runs in the opening frame in 12 of his last 16 starts. Still, Millwood just tries to look at the bottom line.

"I just haven't made enough good pitches," Millwood said.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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