SAN FRANCISCO – Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan must smile whenever they watch the A’s these days, no doubt mindful that the formula they see working for the current A’s is the one they mastered during the late 80s as the A’s manager and pitching coach, respectively.
That tried-and-true recipe was on full display again Wednesday, as the A’s parlayed a solid outing from starting pitcher Tommy Milone, effective pitching from their relievers and several timely hits into a 9-6 victory over the Giants in front of a sold-out crowd at AT&Park.
That’s the formula that carried the A’s to the American League West title last season, and it’s the one that propelled them to wins in six straight games and 11 of their past 12.
“That’s probably the most fun I’ve had in a long time,” A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson said about a game that never quite seemed in hand until Grant Balfour nailed down the final out.
Tommy Milone made his 11th start of the season for the A’s on Wednesday night. As if on cue, he pitched well enough to give the A’s a chance to win, just as he has in all his odd-numbered starts this season.
On Wednesday, Milone struggled at times. Yet, he pitched well enough to get the win as the A’s outlasted the Giants
Milone has been nothing short of efficient and dependable in his six odd-numbered starts. He allowed five earned runs during his first five such starts. In his five others starts, he allowed 22 earned runs – at least four in each game.
He said it was nice getting plenty of run support. It was just as nice playing in an intense setting.
“Every time we come here, the atmosphere is always awesome,” Milone said. “As an athlete, in general, that’s the kind of atmosphere that you want to play in front of every day.”
Now, if Milone can just find a way to string together back-to-back impressive outings. The A’s aren’t complaining, though, not after beating the Giants for the third straight time.
The A’s staked Milone to a 2-0 lead before he delivered his first pitch and enabled him to pitch with a lead until he departed after five-plus innings.
From the outset, Milone did what he does best by combining a high-80s fastball with an array of change-ups and curves and pinpoint control.
Even so, the Giants still managed a few decent threats beyond Hunter Pence’s solo home run in the second that cut the lead to 2-1..
Time and again, though, Milone and a host of relievers made just enough quality pitches to get outs when it mattered. Balfour closed out the game for his 12th save in as many chances.
“You get the momentum going in the other direction here and sometimes it’s tough to stem the tide,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said.
– A’s left fielder Yoenis Cespedes continued his resurgence with a line-drive triple to straightaway center in the top of the first. His run-scoring hit gave the A’s a 1-0 lead and extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games.
– Melvin called on Nate Freiman to pinch-hit for first baseman Brandon Moss in the fifth after Moss struck out his first two at-bats. Moss now is mired in an 8-for-60 slump. Freiman delivered a two-run single that extended the A’s lead to 6-1. He added a run-scoring single in the ninth.
– Outfielder Josh Reddick made it through nine innings and four at-bats Wednesday in a rehab stint without any lingering effects from the sore right wrist that landed him on the 15-day disabled list May 8.
To that end, Melvin said, the plan calls for Reddick to play another game Thursday, as the designated hitter, and then be activated in time for Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
– Reliever Sean Doolittle allowed a run for the first time in 14 appearances when the Giants scored twice in the eighth.
– Melvin said he expected more of a one-sided crowd in the Giants home park. That appeared to be the case, yet plenty of A’s fan could be heard chanting, “Let’s go, Oakland” throughout the game. “We heard them out there,” Melvin said.
– A.J. Griffin (5-3) faces the Giants Barry Zito (3-3) in the finale of the four-game run between these two teams Thursday afternoon.