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TONIGHT: Milacki sets out to prove gem against Royals wasn't a mirage


CLEVELAND -- Bob Milacki gives his newfound control and confidence another test tonight (7:35, Channel 2) when the Orioles face the Cleveland Indians.

Milacki (3-2, 4.15) will be going for his third straight win as the Orioles conclude a seven-game road trip while trying to win back-to-back series for only the second time this year.

After struggling with his control almost continuously since spring training, Milacki found a groove in his last outing against Kansas City, a 1-0 win Saturday night. Now the big righthander wants to prove that wasn't just a one-night stand.

The key for Milacki is the continued success of his changeup, the pitch that makes everything else work. "That was the biggest difference in Kansas City," said pitching coach Al Jackson. "If he can continue to throw it like that, he'll be all right.

"He has to keep command of the entire strike zone," said Jackson. "He didn't get into one of those 'funks' the entire game [in K.C.] and he's got to keep that up."

After winning three of four in Kansas City, the Orioles need a win tonight to capture the three-game series from the Indians. The only time they've won back-to-back series this year came against Cleveland and Boston May 27 to June 2.

Milacki's mound opponent tonight will be rookie lefthander Jeff Mutis (0-2, 12.27). In two previous starts Mutis has pitched a total of 7 1/3 innings, allowing 11 hits and 10 earned runs while batters have hit .344 against him.

Following tonight's game the Orioles return to Baltimore for the final six home games before the All-Star break. They face Boston three times this weekend and then play three against Detroit next week.

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