CINCINNATI (AP) — Two months had passed since Kevin Millwood won a game. More than a year had gone by since Marlon Byrd hit a big league home run.
The last time the Texas Rangers won a series on the road? Felt like forever.
Millwood and Byrd had their personal breakthroughs on Sunday, leading the Texas Rangers to an 11-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds that decided a series between the worst teams from each league.
“I just was glad we took the series,” Byrd said. “That’s the big thing.”
At this point, both teams will take whatever they can get. For the Rangers, it was a blowout on a hot afternoon that was void of history.
Sammy Sosa pinch-hit and grounded into a forceout, leaving him one homer away from becoming the fifth to reach 600. Byrd took his place in right field and had a breakout game, helping the Rangers take two of three in the matchup of bottom dwellers.
“It wasn’t Sammy, but I tried to do what I could,” Byrd said.
The Rangers (26-43) won a road series for only the second time this season — the other came in Houston from May 18-20. The Reds (27-43) lost another at home — they’re 14-23 overall at Great American Ball Park — despite hitting nine homers in the series.
The Rangers pulled away with four runs in the ninth off one of the NL’s worst bullpens. The Reds had one of their three errors in the inning.
No wonder they are where they are.
“You don’t want to be looking up at everybody else,” Ken Griffey Jr. said. “Everybody’s trying to get better. We’ve done some good things here. We’ve done some bad things here.”
Adam Dunn provided the few good moments with two homers off Millwood (3-6), who struck out a season-high 10 batters to get his first victory since April 13. Millwood was sidelined by a pulled hamstring last month, and had gone 0-5 in his last seven starts.
“I think that’s the kind of outing he needs to get going,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
“It’s nice that the roll he was on finally got turned around going the other way.”
Millwood made a few small changes in his delivery — keeping his back straighter, for instance — and got better as the game went along. He struck out the side in the sixth.
“I made some changes, some minor changes,” Millwood said. “I felt the longer the game went on, I got more comfortable with it. That was not exactly what I wanted, but it’s something I can build off.”
Byrd hit a solo homer — his first since last July 4 — and doubled off the center-field fence for two more runs off Bronson Arroyo (2-8), who matched his career high by losing his sixth straight decision.