Gary Matthews Jr. never felt as though he was stuck in a bad slump, even though he knew his recent statistics.
“Any player that says he ignores the numbers flat-out lies,” Matthews said. “When you are going through a tough time, you know it, and it doesn’t sit well with you. … But if I can go through some tough stretches and still drive in some runs, I’ll take it.”
Matthews picked a nice time to snap out of a 3-for-27 slide, hitting a tiebreaking, three-run double to help the Los Angeles Angels rally past Texas 7-4 on Tuesday. The Rangers ended their first homestand of the season with their fifth straight loss.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia never considered giving Matthews a take sign with the bases loaded and a 2-0 count in the sixth inning.
“Gary’s going to be there for us. He’s going to hit,” Scioscia said. “I just thought if it was in there, we all had confidence he was going to get a good hack at it.”
Matthews doubled to left-center on the next pitch from Josh Rupe (0-1), who took over to start the inning because Kevin Millwood left after 70 pitches in a 4-all game due to a bruised left shin sustained when he was hit by a batted ball in the second.
There was no indication that Millwood was hurt after a ball hit by Maicer Izturis ricocheted off the pitcher’s left leg and rolled to first base, where Ben Broussard picked it up and tagged the bag for an easy out. Millwood was even smiling when manager Ron Washington came out to check on him, but the right-hander’s leg stiffened up after that.
“After I first got hit, it went away a little bit but then I sat down and it started stiffening up. It got a little bit worse after every inning,” Millwood said. “I felt good. I felt pretty sharp. It was just one of those situations where every time I landed on my front foot, I’d wince a little bit.”
Millwood expects to be able to make his next scheduled start Sunday at Boston.
Darren Oliver (1-0), like Matthews a former Ranger, threw 2 2-3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Dustin Moseley. Francisco Rodriguez worked the ninth, overcoming two walks for his fifth save in six chances.
Matthews used to be cheered in Texas, where in 2006 he was an All-Star center fielder who hit a career-best .313 and made many highlight-reel catches. But he left as a free agent after that season, and the fans boo him when he comes back.
“It was a little odd,” Matthews said. “You’d think people would be happy when I come back, because I played well here, played hard for these people.”
Rangers fans certainly weren’t happy after Matthews’ big hit, though their frustration was more about their team going 2-6 on its first homestand.
“We played as bad as we could play. The only way we can go is up,” Washington said. “That doesn’t make our season. We had a bad five games. We’re going to have to get ourselves out of it.”
Millwood was also hit on the throwing hand by a batted ball, when he reached up attempting to grab a ball in the fourth that turned into a groundout. That play came between a single by Garrett Anderson and Casey Kotchman’s two-run homer.
Millwood then snagged another comebacker by Izturis for an out before allowing three straight singles, the last by Chone Figgins driving in a run. Vladimir Guerrero and Anderson had consecutive doubles in the fifth to tie the game.
Josh Hamilton drew a two-out walk in the first and scored on Milton Bradley’s double. Bradley went 2-for-5, extending his hitting streak to 10 games, and hit .444 (12-for-27) in his first homestand with the Rangers.
After a single by David Murphy and two walks in the second, Ian Kinsler had a sacrifice fly and Michael Young an RBI single to make it 3-0. Bradley had a leadoff single it the third and scored on Murphy’s sac fly for a 4-0 lead.
Pinch-hitter Marlon Byrd was hit by a pitch to start the seventh, then Murphy hit a ball to right-center that rattled off the wall. But the Rangers didn’t score when Byrd suddenly stopped at third and Murphy was caught heading there.
“In that inning, you wonder what might have been,” Murphy said.
“It’s called bad baserunning, that’s what it was,” Byrd said. “I had a little brain freeze around third. I thought he was going to hold me up and then Murph was on my back.”
Every player and coach for both teams wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson. … Anderson has 147 career RBIs vs. Texas. The only Rangers opponent with more is George Brett (155). … Young made a backhand stab of Guerrero’s hard short-hopper to start an inning-ending double play in the third, right after the shortstop was charged with an error for failing to cover second on a stolen base, letting catcher Adam Melhuse’s throw sail into center field.