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Millwood turns in another solid outing



Published: Tue, April 12, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Acquired from the Phillies, Millwood says he feels healthy.

By JOE SCALZO

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

CLEVELAND -- It's still early, but it looks like the Indians' off-season gamble on pitcher Kevin Millwood is paying off.

Millwood, who signed a incentive-laden, one-year contract with the Tribe in January, pitched well for the second straight game Monday, giving up two runs in seven innings.

Unfortunately, he was tagged with the loss as the Indians managed just one run against Chicago starter Freddy Garcia.

"You can't worry about that," Millwood said. "The offense will come around."

Millwood, 30, began his career with the Atlanta Braves in 1997 and won 18 games twice and 17 games once before being traded to the Phillies in 2002. He went 23-18 in two years in Philadelphia but struggled with elbow problems, landing on the disabled list for more than a month last summer.

Teams shied away from Millwood in the off-season, wary of his arm injury, but the Tribe took a chance. If he stays off the DL, Millwood could make up to $8 million this season, which would make him the highest paid player on the team.

"I feel healthy," he said. "I think there were some teams who were watching me close, but I knew I was fine."

Performance analysis

Millwood surrendered a run in the sixth and seventh innings against the White Sox on Monday, snapping a streak of 11 1/3 scoreless innings. He pitched six shutout innings in a no decision against Chicago on April 6.

"I felt like I located my pitches better today than I did in Chicago," he said.

He made a defensive mistake in the sixth inning, charging a popped-up bunt by Scott Podsednik that got over his head for a single. Podsednik stole second and, one batter later, Carl Everett hit an RBI single up the middle to tie the score at 1.

"I wasn't frustrated," Millwood said of the bunt. "I thought I had a good chance of getting out of the inning, but I missed my location on the pitch to Everett."

Still, his performance should have been good enough to win. But the struggling Tribe offense couldn't get going -- again.

"I feel bad," said Indians outfielder Casey Blake. "We need to produce some runs for him. It seems like every year there's one guy who can only get one or two runs.

"But he's a professional. He knows there's nothing he can do about it."

The Indians offense will likely come around -- especially when the weather improves -- but the Tribe's postseason hopes rest on their starting pitchers. If Millwood can keep pitching well, and if ace C.C. Sabathia can stay healthy, Cleveland could make a run for the American League Central title.

"That's the key," said manager Eric Wedge. "There's nothing more important over the course of a 162-game season than good starting pitching."

scalzo@vindy.com




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