Start after start this season, Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie has pitched the kind of baseball that usually leads to wins.
In the first three months, however, his teammates often failed to reciprocate with the necessary run support.
The sides have forged a more equal partnership of late, and that trend continued last night against the Texas Rangers.
Guthrie pitched seven superb innings, and Kevin Millar slugged two home runs to lead an ample offensive attack as the Orioles defeated the Rangers, 9-1, before an announced 33,351 at Camden Yards.
The win was the third straight for Guthrie (9-8), and he allowed just one run in each of those outings.
"He's in a position now where his due is coming," manager Dave Trembley said. "He's getting the recognition as a legitimate top-of-the-rotation guy for any team in the big leagues. That's how I see Jeremy Guthrie."
Guthrie said he doesn't feel much different than he did when his record stood at 4-7.
"I feel that when I've been on the mound, the team has been in the game," he said. "That's the most important thing."
Guthrie has been the team's most consistent starter all season, allowing three earned runs or fewer in 19 of 25 starts. But he entered last night's game with an 8-8 record to show for it. In his eight losses, the Orioles scored just 11 runs.
Last night, his teammates did better by him as all nine starters had at least one hit. Millar drove in three runs, and Brian Roberts, Juan Castro and Ramon Hernandez had two RBIs each.
The Orioles arrived home after a successful 5-4 road swing during which they hit .301. They wasted little time generating offense against Rangers starter Luis Mendoza.
Mendoza (3-5) earned his first career win against the Orioles in September, but they were far less accommodating to the young right-hander in his second appearance against them. They chased Mendoza from the game after only three innings.
The Orioles loaded the bases with no outs in the second, and Luke Scott scored the game's first run on Castro's sacrifice fly to center. Roberts then gave Guthrie a cushion, lining his league-leading 41st double of the season to bring in two more runs.
Designated hitter Aubrey Huff led off the third with a single to extend his hitting streak to 16 games and quickly scored on Millar's 17th home run of the season. That equaled Millar's total from last season. Two innings later, he set a new high for his Orioles career, sending another ball soaring into the left-field stands.
Asked the reason for Millar's power surge, Trembley said: "The guy works. I'm talking to you in here right now, and he's watching video. The guy works."
Millar agreed that he has no secret. He simply studies pitcher patterns and makes good guesses. "I don't feel any older," he said. "I just feel smarter."
Given runs to work with, Guthrie did his part, as he has all season.
He was coming off one of the best starts of his career, a complete-game, 3-1 win at Seattle. And he was nearly as good last night.
Over seven innings, Guthrie struck out four, allowed five hits and walked one. He peppered the strike zone with 95 mph fastballs and kept hitters off balance with sliders.
The Rangers didn't get to him until the fifth inning, when third baseman Travis Metcalf slammed his first home run of the season into the left-field stands. By then, Guthrie had five runs, far more than he would need.
"I think we said before that he was better than 4-7," Trembley said.
"It's nice to see us score some runs for him."