With Milone looking to continue his mastery at home, Oakland tries to build on another walkoff win Tuesday night in the second of three game against the Tampa Bay Rays .
Milone (9-7, 3.51 ERA) saw his road woes continue Thursday in a 10-4 loss to Toronto, yielding six runs and eight hits over seven innings. The left-hander dropped to 4-6 with a 5.77 ERA as the visiting pitcher - a far cry from his efforts in Oakland.
Milone was been nearly untouchable at home, going 5-1 with a major league-best 0.91 ERA over eight starts while holding opponents to a .184 average.
"It goes back to being more comfortable there," he told the A's official website. "One of the reasons is probably because it's so big. Obviously, you always like pitching better at home than on the road."
Milone was at his best during his last home start July 20, striking out a career-high 10 over seven scoreless innings of a 3-2 walkoff win over the New York Yankees .
Another gem from Milone could go a long way with Oakland (56-46) all but certain to be exhausted following Monday's 4-3, 15-inning victory. Jemile Weeks came through with a sacrifice fly in the 15th to give the A's their MLB-best 12th walkoff win.
Oakland improved to 19-4 this month - its best record in July in franchise history. The A's sit in first place in the AL wild-card standings and 3 1/2 games back of AL West-leading Texas.
"This has been an awesome ride, just to be doing what we're doing," All-Star reliever Ryan Cook said. "This is exactly where we want to be."
Tampa Bay (53-50) dropped to 4-3 on its nine-game road trip and has dropped 12 of 17 to the A's.
"It stinks any time you lose a game," starter David Price said. "It's tough when you play for as long as we did tonight. To not be able to win that game stings a little bit."
The Rays will try to bounce back behind James Shields (8-7, 4.52), whose name has come up in trade rumors but appears unlikely to get moved before Tuesday's deadline. The right-hander has been a bit shaky of late, going 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA over his last seven outings.
Shields struck out 10 for the second consecutive outing Thursday but couldn't overcome a career worst-tying five walks while surrendering five runs in six innings of a 6-2 loss at Baltimore.
"(Shields is) throwing well, it's just kind of exasperating for him not being able to put hitters away in those moments when he normally is able to do so," manager Joe Maddon told the Rays' official website. "There's these little command issues with him that normally do not occur."
In his most recent appearance against the A's, Shields was tagged for a career worst-tying 10 runs and 12 hits over four innings of a 13-4 road loss July 27, 2011. He is 0-2 with an 8.34 ERA over his last four visits to Oakland.
Milone's only appearance against the Rays came in a 9-5 road victory May 6. He earned the win despite allowing five runs in as many innings and issuing four walks to match a career high.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|June 20, 2012||Matt Joyce||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|July 28, 2012||Coco Crisp||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hamstring tightness|
|July 20, 2012||Cliff Pennington||15-Day DL||Left elbow tendinitis|
|June 23, 2012||Collin Cowgill||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|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|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- James Shields is glad he didn't get traded away from Tampa Bay. He pitched like it, too.
The subject of trade rumors right up until Tuesday's non-waiver deadline, Shields showed why he was so coveted with his most dominant performance of the season.
The Rays right-hander pitched a three-hitter for his seventh career shutout, giving Tampa Bay's taxed bullpen a much-needed rest in an 8-0 win over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
"It was pretty much textbook. He was outstanding," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I loved his approach. It was spectacular. That was as good as I've seen him in a long time."
The game lasted just 2 hours, 37 minutes, a sharp turnaround from 24 hours earlier when the two teams played 15 innings in a marathon that went 5 hours, 9 minutes and ended after midnight.
Shields, a 16-game winner in 2011, was a big reason for that. He retired 14 straight at one point, faced just two batters over the minimum and needed only 98 pitches while winning for the first time in nearly a month.
"It's very satisfying, obviously (for) all the talk that's been going on but for me personally," Shields said. "It really hadn't bothered me but it's good to be a Ray. This is my home. I'm glad to be here."
Tampa Bay fielded several inquiries for the right-hander before the trade deadline before deciding to hold onto him.
It turned out to be a wise decision, at least for now.
Shields gave up a one-out single to Chris Carter in the second, a leadoff single to Jemile Weeks in the fourth and a two-out single to George Kottaras in the eighth. None of the runners advanced.
"When he's on, he's good and he was really good tonight," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "When someone is pitching that well it's tough to analyze the offense."
B.J. Upton drove in two runs and the Rays broke out of their prolonged offensive slump to improve to 5-3 on their nine-game road trip.
Sam Fuld had three hits, Upton added two and six different players drove in runs for the Rays. Tampa Bay went into the game last in the majors in hitting and had scored only nine runs in its previous four games before knocking A's starter Tommy Milone around for two runs in the second and three in the fifth.
That was all Shields (9-7) needed to secure his 17th career complete game and first this season.
As good as Shields was, Maddon was just as pleased with the offense.
Eight players had at least one hit and six scored at least one run. The eight runs are also the second most scored by Tampa Bay since the All-Star break.
"All kinds of moving the baseball when it needed to be moved," Maddon said. "That's what with have to be better with situationally. That was as clean a game as we've played in a long time."
Oakland, which set a franchise record for winning percentage in July, couldn't keep up and fell to 13-4 since the break.
The A's didn't get a runner to second and were shut out for the 12th time this season.
Milone (9-8) was tagged for five runs in six innings against Tampa Bay. Milone, who allowed only six earned runs over 59 2-3 innings in his previous eight starts at home, struck out four and walked one.
"I fell behind hitters and left the ball up," Milone said. "Strike one is a big pitch for me. If I don't get that then I have to throw a good pitch and then I get into a deeper hole."
The Rays scored twice in the second against Milone. Upton had an RBI single to drive in one while Desmond Jennings scored on a groundout.
Tampa Bay opened the sixth with three straight singles off Milone to go up 3-0. Carlos Pena added a sacrifice fly to drive in Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez singled in Jeff Keppinger to make it 5-0.
The Rays added an unearned run in the seventh off Evan Scribner and scored twice in the ninth.
NOTES: The Rays called up RHP Josh Lueke before the game to give their bullpen a break following Monday's marathon loss. Lueke was with the Rays coming out of spring training and has an 18.90 ERA in three games with the big league club. To make room for Lueke, Tampa Bay optioned infielder Brooks Conrad to Durham. ... DH Evan Longoria was given the day off in his rehab but is scheduled to play in the minors for the Rays again Wednesday. ... RHP Jarrod Parker (7-4) pitches the series finale for Oakland while RHP Alex Cobb (4-8) goes for Tampa Bay.