Milone hits speed bump in return to Oakland

Facing former team, left-hander allows 3 homers in 2 2/3 innings

Milone hits speed bump in return to Oakland

OAKLAND -- Considering his history in Oakland and his recent run of success, it came as a surprise to see left-hander Tommy Milone struggle so mightily against his former team on Sunday.

Milone, who entered with a career 2.96 ERA in 35 outings in Oakland, had gone 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA in seven starts since rejoining the rotation in early June. But he was hit hard by the A's, as the lefty gave up seven runs (five earned) on five hits over 2 2/3 innings in a 14-1 loss that was the most lopsided defeat of the year for Minnesota.

"We got whipped pretty good," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "They kind of dominated. We opened the door with a misplay. Milone looked sharp right out of the chute, but then we make a misplay and then [the A's] hit a homer. The ball was flying today, but they took advantage and we didn't. And their first seven runs all came with two outs, so those are tough."

Milone had allowed just five earned runs over his previous five starts, but matched that total in the third inning alone. He was hurt by three homers, giving up a two-run shot to Josh Phegley in the second after an error from shortstop Danny Santana before serving up a two-run shot to Billy Butler and a solo blast to Jake Smolinski in the fourth.

Milone hadn't allowed a homer since June 12, and entered his outing having served up eight homers in 11 starts this year. It was the sixth time in his career he gave up three long balls and the first time since May 3, 2014 in Boston. But he said he couldn't pinpoint why he had so much trouble keeping the ball in the park.

"I don't know, to be honest," Milone said. "I felt like I was making some good pitches and pitches that were down, but they did a good job of going down and lifting them into the air. It seemed like the ball was flying out a little bit. But regardless, I have to do a better job of getting out of the third with two outs."

Milone also downplayed any notion that nerves played a part in his struggles, as it was first game in Oakland since joining the Twins in a trade for Sam Fuld on July 31, 2014.

"I think I was a little excited to get out there because it was the first time I've pitched out here since I was traded, but I felt normal and didn't feel overexcited," Milone said.

Milone, who was saddled with his first loss since April 27, also said he doesn't think it'll be difficult to move on from his rough outing because he's been pitching so well recently and his stuff didn't feel any different on Sunday.

"I think it'll be easier than some might think," Milone said. "I just have to go back to what I was doing but I felt normal and felt the same but obviously the results weren't there today. But I just have to stick with it and just go about what I've been doing."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.