Milone starts road trip with seven shutout innings

Milone starts road trip with seven shutout innings

Milone starts road trip with seven shutout innings
SEATTLE -- It may not have been home, but it felt like home.

That's all Tommy Milone needed to remind himself when he took the hill Monday in Seattle, pushing aside his well-documented road woes and compiling his second straight gem in a 1-0 A's win, their second straight.

The southpaw didn't go the distance this time, as he did five days prior against the Dodgers, but his seven scoreless innings of seven-hit ball proved equally effective, as he lowered his road ERA from 7.42 to 6.39.

"After my last start here, I realized there is a lot of room in the outfield just like in the Coliseum," Milone said. "It makes it a lot easier to throw strikes and let them hit it and hopefully at people."

"This place is similar to ours, the way it plays," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Command guys like that, who can keep the ball in the big part of the park, do well."

That Milone did, walking none and striking out five in the win, giving him eight on the season -- most by a rookie in Oakland history before the All-Star break. Milone threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 26 batters faced and relied on a pair of double-play balls to keep him out of trouble, which proved significant, given his opponents' work.

The A's stayed quiet against Seattle starter Erasmo Ramirez, collecting just three hits and striking out 10 times in eight innings against the rookie right-hander. But Seth Smith's second-inning solo shot to dead center -- his eighth homer of the season -- served as just enough support to help Milone pick up a rare road win.

"I was trying to be aggressive early in the count," Smith said. "He seemed like he had really good stuff tonight. I saw from the first four batters in front of me kind of what he was doing, and I knew I wanted to hit early in the count. I was able to barrel up the first pitch he threw me."

Not one other A's batter reached past first base, but it didn't matter. Not with Milone on the mound.

"This guy Milone was throwing the ball perfect," Seattle's Jesus Montero said. "He was putting the ball on the corners really good. Cutters in, fastball outside, the changeup was good. ... He was really good."

Milone has now given up just one earned run over his past 16 innings after surrendering eight in a June 13 start in Colorado.

"I've said before, 'I feel just as comfortable on the road as I do at home,'" he said. "I felt like it was just a matter of time. Today, [Kurt] Suzuki could have called any pitch and I would have thrown it in that spot. That's the kind of game I felt I threw tonight. That's how my arm felt. It felt great. When you feel like that, not a lot of things go wrong."

It marked just the second start in six days for Suzuki since rookie Derek Norris' callup, and it was one planned well in advance, given the success Suzuki has found with Milone.

Suzuki went 0-for-3 at the plate, watching his season average drop to .213. But his importance to the team has been his work with the pitching staff, as displayed Monday.

"He's been around a lot longer than I have," Milone said. "I trust him and am usually going to go with what he throws down."

For four straight days, A's fans were spoiled with games that oozed of drama and excitement, of back-and-forth leads that led to heartbreaking losses and blissful wins. This one wasn't quite as exhilarating, but it was still just as satisfying for all involved.

A's righty Ryan Cook, following a perfect eighth inning from Grant Balfour, capped it off with a scoreless ninth for his fifth save of the season.

"It really felt like there was a bit of an emotional hangover today, as far as energy goes, based on what happened this weekend," Melvin said. "That took a lot out of everybody. But you play 162 games and they all mean the same, so it was good to see the defense intensity was still there and the pitching was great."

Jane Lee is a reporter for Read her blog, Major Lee-ague, and follow her on Twitter @JaneMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.