Oakland's Tommy Milone has been outstanding at home. If he can continue his dominant pitching there, he should have a good chance to get the surging Athletics back to .500 for the first time in six weeks.
Milone and the A's open a three-game series Friday night against the Mariners, who should be very happy to temporarily leave the spacious dimensions of Safeco Field.
Oakland (41-42) has won four straight and 15 of 22 after a three-game sweep of Boston.
"We just need to win every game we can right now," third baseman Brandon Inge told Oakland's official website following a 3-2 victory Wednesday. "I think we're a team that can hang with anyone. It's a matter of pulling it all together."
While the hitting hasn't been consistent, Oakland's pitching has been. The Athletics' 3.43 ERA leads the AL, with the starters posting a 1.89 mark in the last 20 games.
A.J. Griffin, making his third career start Wednesday, allowed one earned run in six innings.
Milone (3-6, 4.00 ERA) has done his share, mostly in Oakland where's he's gone 5-1 with a 0.99 ERA in six outings.
"Every time he takes the mound, I feel good about him pitching," manager Bob Melvin said. "Certainly the numbers would suggest that he pitches great here. Now that's not going to happen all the time, but certainly to this point at the season, here we are at the halfway point, he's had a good game here at home every time."
The left-hander's last two starts have come on the road. He gave up six runs - one earned - in five innings of a 7-2 loss to Texas on Saturday.
Milone's previous outing came at Seattle on June 25, when he scattered seven hits in seven innings of a 1-0 win. He pitched six innings and gave up four runs in a 4-0 road loss to the Mariners on April 14.
Oakland is looking to match its longest winning streak of the season, set June 12-16, and get back to .500 for the first time since May 22.
Facing the Mariners' struggling lineup could help, as Seattle (35-49) has lost seven of 11 while totaling 21 runs in that span. The club was held to three hits in a 4-2 loss to Baltimore on Wednesday.
"Every position player out there has a job to do and they are not getting it done right now," manager Eric Wedge said. "It's obvious."
Seattle's problems at the plate, however, appear to be due in large part to pitcher-friendly Safeco. The Mariners, who just completed a 10-game homestand, are last in baseball with 117 runs scored at home but second in the major leagues with 211 runs on the road.
Seattle has averaged 6.8 runs in its last 17 away from home, scoring at least 10 runs six times in that span.
Kevin Millwood (3-6, 4.00) will take the mound for the first time since leaving after 2 2-3 innings against Oakland on June 27 with a strained groin. The right-hander allowed a solo home run and struck out three in that outing - his second this season in which he left due to the groin injury.
The A's are 4-6 against the Mariners and dropped three of four at home to them March 28-April 7. Seattle totaled 15 runs in the last two games of that series.
|July 01, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Left Game-Head Injury|
|June 29, 2012||Franklin Gutierrez||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 27, 2012||Kevin Millwood||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained right groin|
|June 13, 2012||Stephen Pryor||15-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|June 23, 2012||Collin Cowgill||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|June 20, 2012||Brandon McCarthy||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|June 18, 2012||Bartolo Colon||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 18, 2012||Bartolo Colon||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|June 13, 2012||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|June 06, 2012||Andrew Carignan||60-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Chris Carter washed away any remaining memories of his 0-for-33 start in the majors and pushed the Oakland Athletics back to an even record.
All it took was one swing.
Carter crushed a pinch-hit three-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning, powering the A's past the Seattle Mariners 4-1 on Friday night to match a season-high five-game winning streak. Oakland (42-42) also climbed to .500 for the first time since May 22.
"I don't know if the ball has landed yet," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Carter sent the 0-1 pitch from Steve Delabar deep into the stands in left field to ignite a spirited green-and-gold clad crowd announced at 10,869. The hit was Carter's first walk-off shot, third long ball of the season and sixth of his young career.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Carter - who started his career with an Oakland record 0-for-33 slump two years ago - tossed his helmet and jumped into a pile of teammates at home plate. Then right fielder Josh Reddick surprised Carter with a whip-cream pie to the face to finish off Oakland's seventh walk-off celebration this season.
"I could taste it in my mouth," Carter said. "Best feeling ever."
Reddick flicked a single to left off Oliver Perez (0-1) to start the final rally. After Yoenis Cespedes flied out to right, Seth Smith hit a checked-swing infield single near third base to chase Perez and set the stage for Carter's homer.
"Coming in late like that you've got to be perfect," Delabar said. "And I wasn't perfect. The location was up a little bit and he got it."
Jordan Norberto (1-1) struck out Seattle's side in the 11th for his first career win.
Both teams wasted solid starts by Seattle's Kevin Millwood and A's lefty Tommy Milone , who each tossed seven innings and combined to strike out 16 batters. But each had nothing to show for all the work.
The A's rallied in the eighth before both teams missed a chance in the ninth to end the game.
Pinch-hitter Brandon Hicks doubled off the top of the right-center field wall against Charlie Furbush with one out in the eighth. After Coco Crisp popped out to right, Jemile Weeks hit a tying RBI single up the middle off Tom Wilhelmsen .
Cespedes drew a leadoff walk against Wilhelmsen in the ninth and stole second with two outs. After Derek Norris was walked intentionally, Brandon Inge grounded out to short.
Seattle's Carlos Peguero poked a two-out triple to left in the ninth that landed in front of a diving Cespedes, who took a bad angle to the ball and watched it trickle to the warning track. But All-Star closer Ryan Cook got Dustin Ackley to ground out to short for the third out, and both sides struggled to score the game-winning run.
"Unless they're just not paying attention or are just dumb, they should be able to find a way to get back to it and be more consistent," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "But you have to be much better than this offensively."
The only run the Mariners managed came before most fans in the spacious Oakland Coliseum even sat down.
Kyle Seager singled to center in the first to score Casper Wells from second and give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Justin Smoak struck out looking to strand two runners.
Seattle's defense backed Millwood more than once.
After Smith singled leading off the second, Wells made a running catch against the wall in left to rob Brandon Moss of extra bases and likely save a run. Millwood also struck out Derek Norris swinging and catcher Miguel Olivo threw out Smith at second for a double play.
Millwood moved through the A's lineup with relative ease the rest of the way.
He allowed two walks in the fourth before striking out Moss for the inning's final out, and overcame a one-out infield single by Weeks in the sixth - the first Oakland hit since the second inning - by getting Reddick to fly out to center and Cespedes to ground out back to the mound.
Millwood left after striking out seven in seven innings, allowing three hits and two walks. He showed no signs of the right groin discomfort that sidelined him after 2 2/3 innings in his last start.
Milone had a career-high nine strikeouts and gave up six hits and one walk in seven innings. The lefty's previous best for strikeouts in a game was six, which he had done three times - including his last start at Texas on June 30.
At least he settled for the thrill of watching Carter's homer from a clubhouse television with four relievers.
"Just jumping up and down with everyone else," Milone said. "I think it was all one big yell from all of us."
NOTES: Oakland LHP Brett Anderson threw 25 pitches against hitters before the game in another step forward from elbow-ligament replacement surgery last July. He will throw a bullpen session Sunday and then toss two innings in a simulated game in Arizona next week, manager Bob Melvin said. ... Seattle C Jesus Montero sat out while recovering from a mild concussion after taking a foul ball from Baltimore's Robert Andino off the facemask Wednesday. Wedge said Montero is "day to day" and won't go on the seven-day concussion DL because the All-Star break is coming anyway. ... Mariners reliever Stephen Pryor (left groin strain) threw a simulated game and will begin a rehab stint in Class-A High Desert on Sunday before going to Triple-A Tacoma.