Millar spoils former team's afternoon

Millar spoils former team's afternoon

BALTIMORE -- For two years, Kevin Millar has been an Oriole with an identity crisis.

The blue-collar first baseman is best known as a member of the Red Sox team that finally won a World Series after an 86-year drought, and he's prone to bellowing "Sox Nation" whenever he sees his former team on TV.

The affable infielder may have finally conquered that on Sunday, though, when he drilled a three-run walk-off home run in the 10th inning to give Baltimore a 6-3 win and its first series victory over Boston since 2005.

"We had a curse," said Millar, who entered the interview room at Camden Yards with eye black smeared all over his face. "I think it was worse than the 86-year-old curse they had over there in Fenway. They've handled us pretty good the last year and a half, but we played a great series here, and we had [to face] their best three."

The Orioles faced Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling over the last three days, a trio largely unequaled in the American League. They outlasted Matsuzaka and beat Boston's bullpen on Friday, lost a one-sided game to Beckett on Saturday and scored five unanswered runs on Sunday to snap their 11-series losing streak.

As usual, Millar was right in the middle of the commotion. He came to the plate with one out in the 10th inning and two men on base against Kyle Snyder, and admitted after the game that he thought the Sox might walk him to set up a double play.

Snyder fell behind, though, and made the mistake of throwing two straight curveballs. After being fooled on the first one, Millar popped the next one over the left-field wall. His teammates greeted him in a raucous celebration at home, and after that, they doused him with a bucket of ice water as he sat on the field doing the obligatory postgame interview.

"I wasn't expecting that one. We haven't had a whole lot of those," Millar said. "I've got to go back to the tapes on this one. Whoever got me, it's 1-0 them. But I'll be back.

"That's the stuff you dream about when you're in the Wiffle-Ball yard," he added in a more reflective moment. "You dream about playing in the big leagues. You dream about hitting a game-winning home run. Those are the things you dream about when you're with Mom and Dad in the backyard. You've got to love being in those situations as a player."

It may have seemed like destiny, but Millar's heroics never would have been possible without Miguel Tejada's home run in the eighth inning. The four-time All-Star and former Most Valuable Player came up with the score 3-1 and punched an Eric Gagne offering over the wall in left field to tie the game and give Baltimore hope.

Strangely enough, Tejada had told manager Dave Trembley exactly what to expect.

"I was already 0-for-3," said Tejada. "I said to Dave, just joking around, 'One more at-bat. That's probably going to be my last at-bat of the game, and I'm going to try to swing one out of here.' And I got lucky to hit one out."

"[Tejada] came up to me and said, 'I'm going to take him deep. We're going to get back in this,' " added Trembley. "And after he hit the home run, I went up to him and said, 'Why didn't you tell me that earlier?' "

Steve Trachsel continued his winless streak after working into the seventh inning and allowing a season-high 10 hits. Boston hit four doubles, and all of them played a key role in the score. Manny Ramirez drilled a two-run double in the third inning to give the Red Sox a lead, and Julio Lugo doubled in the fourth to make it a two-run game.

Trachsel hasn't won since June 8, but Tejada's home run gave him his fifth no-decision in his last six starts. The veteran has allowed at least three earned runs in seven of his last nine starts -- but he's allowed five total earned runs in his last three outings. After he left in the seventh, and Jim Hoey induced a double play to escape the starter's last jam.

"It's not something I'm focused on," Trachsel said of the winless streak. "I'm just really trying to make sure I pitch better and pitch deeper into games. Obviously, I'm trying to cut down on the walks and all that. I'm really concentrating on first-pitch strikes, and I think that's what's starting to show up in these last three games, especially.

"If I keep doing what I'm doing, the wins will show up eventually."

Boston starter Curt Schilling got through his start without walking or striking out any batters for the first time in his career. Still, the right-hander dominated Baltimore for most of the day and allowed only one unearned run. He gave up five hits in six innings and stood as the pitcher of record until Gagne suffered his latest implosion.

Gagne has allowed earned runs in four of his five games -- seven total -- since being traded to Boston near the non-waiver trading deadline. Baltimore also got to him on Friday in its comeback win. Now, the Orioles travel to New York to take on the hottest team in baseball, a development that Trembley thinks will test his team even further.

"The schedule obviously doesn't get any easier for us," Trembley said. "It's all about competing and playing every game to the best of your capabilities and understanding that if you do all the little things correctly and you get late in the game, you're going to have a chance -- especially with the makeup that we have on the team."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.