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SEA@COL: Millwood fans seven in a two-hit shutout

DENVER -- Kevin Millwood went to school on pitching at Coors Field in his nine-game stint with the Rockies to close the 2011 season, and he was as good as it got in Colorado. He shared the team lead with four wins from his Aug. 10 arrival through the end of the season, and his 3.98 ERA was the lowest of all starters. But he saved the best for a homecoming Friday night, when he schooled his former teammates, stifling the Rockies as he no-hit them for 5 2/3 innings en route to a 4-0 complete game shutout and Mariners win.

"It doesn't matter where you pitch," Millwood said. "If you make good pitches, you can get people out. The most important thing was for this team to get a win."

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for the Mariners, who hadn't won since Millwood's start Saturday against the Yankees.

It was "turn-back-the-clock night" for Millwood, 37, who flirted with his second career no-hitter. He had one in 2003 when he no-no'd the Giants in his first season with the Phillies.

"That game I was throwing the ball a little harder," Millwood said. "My ball was moving a lot more that day. Today my main focus was to try and keep the ball down and get them to hit the ball on the ground. I was able to do that for the most part."

What he did was put on a pitching clinic. He got 12 ground-ball outs and seven in the air. He also struck out seven.

"We just pretty much threw fastballs all the way through the order," catcher John Jaso said. "He was making it cut, and he was making it sink and run, so hitters didn't really know what it was going to do. Even if you stayed on one side of the plate, it was moving different directions, so they couldn't really get a grasp of it.

"Then the second time through the lineup he started throwing some off-speed stuff. He started dumping some of those in for strikes, and they were trying to sit on that fastball out over the plate. I can imagine hitting against him tonight. It would have been mind-boggling. I would have been swimming in my own brain about what to look for."

The first two times through the order, his only blemish was a walk to Dexter Folwer in the third. He benefited from some good grabs in the field, and Millwood was looking unhittable as the sixth inning was winding down.

"I didn't see us swinging at foolish pitches," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "The only bad count he got himself into was the Dexter Fowler walk. He ended up clipping E.Y. [Eric Young] to start the ninth inning. That's it."

Millwood bid adieu to the no-hitter with two outs in the sixth when Marco Scutaro hit a tough grounder to the hole between third and short. Kyle Seager got the ball in his glove on a hop, but dropped it in the transfer and lost his chance at making a throw to first. Before the official scorer ruled it a hit or an error, Jordan Pacheco shot a clean single up the middle to emphatically end Millwood's bid.

"I tell you what, that's a play I sure would like to make," Seager said. "In that situation with him throwing the way he was and having not given up a hit yet, that's a play that I feel like I needed to make for him.

"The ball kind of kicked and it went back, so I kind of caught it a little deeper. And when I went to spin and throw it, I just kind of lost it in the transfer. You make that play, it ends the inning. Get out of that inning you're in the next inning, so you never know."

Millwood continued his mastery after allowing his two hits in the sixth, retiring the side in order in the seventh and eighth inning before plunking Young to open the ninth. When Scutaro dropped a beautiful bunt toward third, angling for a base hit, Millwood dove into the air for the bouncing ball, just missing it as Seager came behind him to scoop it up and nab Scutaro at first.

"That's an unbelievable effort right there," Seager said. "He laid it all out there. That's pretty special to see a guy giving it all like that. That motivates you as a team when you've got Millwood out there, he's diving after bunts in the ninth inning. That's unbelievable. That speaks a lot about him and his competitiveness and his leadership."

With Millwood offering one of the most dominant pitching performances Coors Field has seen, it didn't take much from the Mariners' bats to complete the job. They got all they needed in the first inning when Michael Saunders tripled into the right-center gap and Seager singled up the middle to bring him home.

They added on with Mike Carp's solo homer in the second, an unearned run on Seager's sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Jaso's sacrifice fly to knock in Seager, who tripled to open the ninth. The added runs gave Millwood the ability to challenge hitters inside in his third time through the order.

"We were set out predominantly down and away to hitters -- everything was moving down there," Jaso said. "Later in the game, after we got a comfortable lead, we started for strike three buzzing some balls inside, and the hitters weren't ready for it."

It was the 20th complete-game shutout ever at Coors Field, the 10th by an opposing pitcher, and only the fourth time in the ballpark's 1,440 games that an opposing pitcher has held the Rockies to two hits or less while shutting them out.

"You can't ask for anything more, and obviously we really needed that as a ballclub," manager Eric Wedge said. "Not only did he pitch an outstanding game, but he finished what he started."

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