Saturday, May 10, 2014
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Confident Milone Leads A's Shutout Of Nationals

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[May 10, 2014]  OAKLAND, Calif. -- With starting pitchers Dan Straily and Tommy Milone struggling, it seemed only a matter of time before the A's sent one of them to Triple-A Sacramento.

That move came Friday. Straily packed his bags. Milone stayed in Oakland and pitched arguably the best game of his career -- against his former team, no less.

Milone threw eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits as the A's crushed the Washington Nationals 8-0 at the O.co Coliseum. Brandon Moss, Yoenis Cespedes and John Jaso each homered for the A's, giving Milone more than enough support.

"It might be a vote of confidence for him, too, that he's here," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Really it was just last year at times when he finally got sent down that confidence-wise that can hit you a little bit for a guy. For a guy that's won 25 games the last two years, that's pretty good. A lot of teams would take him. A little bit of a vote of confidence that it wasn't him today."

Facing the Nationals for the first time since they traded him to Oakland in December 2011, Milone (1-3) earned his first win of the season. He struck out seven and walked three. He pitched like the Milone of 2012, who went 13-10 with a 3.74 ERA.

"It's just nice to get out there and throw well," Milone said. "I did that in 2012. Not so much in 2013. But it's nice to get out there and throw well and put up zeroes."


Last season a struggling Milone was sent down to Sacramento on Aug. 3 before working his way back to Oakland. So did he take Friday's roster decision as a vote of confidence?

"Maybe in a sense," Milone said. "I didn't really think about it that way; but, you know, in the back of my mind maybe that's something that did happen."

The A's ruined former Tigers right-hander Doug Fister's debut for the Nationals. Fister, who had been on the disabled list with a strained right lat until being activated Friday night, allowed five earned runs and seven total in just 4 1/3 innings. He gave up nine hits, including three home runs, struck out two and walked none.

"Physically I felt like I was in the right place," Fister said. "I felt strong. It was lack of execution. I was excited for tonight no more than normal. Everything felt good. I have been working on certain pitches to keep them down in the zone. I didn't do that tonight."

The Nationals committed three errors -- one each by Fister, third baseman Anthony Rendon and left fielder Scott Hairston.

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Jaso, the A's designated hitter, hit a solo shot in the second. Then in the fifth, Moss hit a two-run blast and Cespedes a solo homer as the A's had back-to-back home runs for the first time this season.

"Fister threw a lot of strikes and we were really aggressive with him," Moss said. "It was his first game back. He was probably feeling a little bit of adrenaline. I don't know how he felt, but his offspeed wasn't as good as it's been in the past."

Milone was sharp from the outset, keeping his pitches low, throwing to both sides of the plate and changing speeds. He gave up a two-out double to Hairston in the second and a two-out infield single to Hairston in the seventh. Each time, Milone retired the next hitter. Milone threw 108 pitches, and 71 were strikes.

"I actually played behind Tommy and I've always been impressed with him," Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond said. "He's a competitor; he moves quick. He's like a little Mark Buehrle. I wouldn't be surprised if he has a very similar career. He's a competitor, he pounds the zone and he works quick. ... We just missed a couple balls, but that's what he does: He misses barrels."

Right-hander Fernando Rodriguez, making his A's debut, pitched a scoreless ninth in his first major league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery on March 27, 2013.

NOTES: RHP Dan Straily, the A's No. 4 starter, was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, and LHP Drew Pomeranz moved from the bullpen into the rotation. ... A's RHP Ryan Cook was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain. ... LHP hander Fernando Rodriquez and RHP Joe Savery were called up from Sacramento to bolster the A's bullpen. ... Nationals OF Nate McLouth (sore right hand) was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game but was available off the bench and is expected to start Saturday in the second game of the three-game series.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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