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Phillies keep brooms in closet
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09/19/2004 7:23 PM ET 
Phillies keep brooms in closet
Millwood makes first start since Aug. 5

Placido Polanco tags out Montreal's Juan Rivera at second base on Sunday afternoon. (H. Rumph Jr./AP)

PHILADELPHIA -- Kevin Millwood found trouble early in his return to the Phillies' rotation, staring at a bases loaded, two-out situation in the first inning.

Having already surrendered a run, the veteran limited the damage by striking out Jamey Carroll. Millwood had an easier time during a scoreless second inning. From there, his scheduled replacement, Gavin Floyd, took over and pitched through the fifth inning.

Philadelphia's offense came alive, pounding out 14 hits in a 7-2 win over the Expos before 42,603 at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday afternoon. The Phillies went over the three million mark in attendance for the first time since 1993.

"I was a little anxious before the game started," Millwood said. "The most encouraging thing was that I came off the mound feeling good. I think you can kind of expect that all your pitches aren't going to be there after that much time off."

Making his first start since Aug. 5, Millwood had been scheduled to throw roughly 40 pitches, and he nearly exhausted that total in a 33-pitch first. He ended up throwing 52 pitches. Considering how long his layoff had been, he was pleased to see improved velocity on Sunday.

A few of his fastballs hit 94 mph, and Millwood admitted to taking a peek at the radar gun.

"I haven't had a gun on me since I was injured, but I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty hard in the simulated games," he said. "I wasn't looking to throw that hard. I didn't think I was going to, but I don't think I was surprised by it."

Millwood also said live action is quite different from simulated games.

"This stuff goes on the back of your baseball card, so it matters a lot more than a simulated game," he said. "I had a lot more adrenaline going. It was a fun day, but there's still a lot of things I have to work on before next time."

Mike Lieberthal started the offensive barrage with a game-tying home run off Scott Downs (3-6) in the second, and the Phillies erupted for three more runs in the fourth. Jimmy Rollins drove in the first run that inning with a single, and Placido Polanco added two more with a single of his own.

   Kevin Millwood  /   P
Born: 12/24/74
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

After leaving a start in San Diego with right elbow tendinitis, some thought Millwood wouldn't return this season. But the right-hander worked hard through his rehabilitation. A pending free agent, Millwood wanted to show potential suitors that he's healthy.

"It was very important for me, giving me some peace of mind," he said. "Being a free agent at the end of the year, I need to let Philadelphia and whoever might be interested know that I'm healthy."

The rookie Floyd (2-0) is trying to show the Phillies that he's ready to move into the starting rotation next season. He threw 72 pitches in his three innings, and the effort earned him his second Major League win.

Floyd again relied heavily on his dazzling curveball, of which Millwood said, "If it's not the best in the league, it's in the top two or three."

The curve, taught to Floyd by his father, had the Expos hitters baffled on many occasions. Floyd used it to get out of a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the fourth. He said he has confidence in all his pitches, but he feels the most confident in the curve.

Despite throwing the most innings in any season, Floyd's offseason plan won't change. He'll try to gain some weight, then start throwing around Christmas.

After learning the ropes while going to Spring Training twice, Floyd has a single-minded goal for 2005: make the team.

"I hope so," he said. "I'm going to work harder to make that happen."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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