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LAA@OAK: Milone goes seven strong innings in win

OAKLAND -- Tommy Milone might not ever lose another game if he's restricted to starts at home.

The A's left-hander, after limiting the Angels to one run over seven innings in a 2-1 win Monday, improved his perfect record at the Coliseum to 4-0, with an ERA barely visible at 0.60.

No wonder he feels "a tremendous amount of confidence" when pitching for the home crowd.

"It's easy when you've got such a big park, a lot of foul territory," said Milone, who has a 7.16 ERA on the road. "I feel like, when I'm here, I'm not afraid to pitch to contact, especially with that defense behind me. They've done a really nice job, and I have a bunch of confidence in them as well."

"I mean, it's pretty remarkable, really," reliever Ryan Cook said of Milone, who played with him at the University of Southern California. "Playing with him in college, I kind of expect that. He can put the ball wherever he wants at all times, and that's big for him."

The Angels put just six men on base during Milone's tenure on the mound, and Albert Pujols went hitless in his first two at-bats before barreling up a changeup for a leadoff double in the sixth.

But the Angels, who are 5-for-48 with runners in scoring position over the past five games, failed to produce a run in the inning, as Milone deemed "everything" to be working for him, particularly his first-pitch fastball he effectively threw outside to an all-righty lineup.

Both clubs have been victims of dismal averages with runners in scoring position this season, and both continued to play to the tune of that trend on Monday, each club collecting just one hit in such situations.

But it was Oakland's hit that proved the difference this time, en route to snatching up its second straight win and fifth of the season in seven games against the Halos, whom Milone limited to five hits with one walk and three strikeouts in his 108-pitch outing.

Los Angeles' lone run nearly wasn't one, as Mike Trout's RBI double -- a popup to shallow right field -- with two on and two outs in the fifth could have been caught by Daric Barton. But the running A's first baseman couldn't keep the ball in his glove, allowing Howard Kendrick to score from second on a play that was ultimately ruled a two-bagger rather than an error.

Milone induced another popup from Alberto Callaspo in the direction of Barton, who made the catch to end the frame with two men stranded.

"I don't know if it's just runners in scoring position," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We didn't have a lot of offense tonight all the way around. You have to give a little credit to Milone. He definitely used both sides of the plate and changed speeds, threw some soft stuff on off-counts, and as the game went on we made some better adjustments, but just didn't create enough in the batter's box to do some things."

Los Angeles entered the day ranked fifth in the American League in average with runners in scoring position (.236), while the A's sat last on the list with a .222 mark.

Oakland loaded the bases twice against Angels starter Jerome Williams in the second and third frames, scoring just one run in each. Kurt Suzuki's double-play grounder brought in a run in the second, and Kila Ka'aihue's run-scoring single in the third represented the decisive run.

The one-run win marked the A's sixth of the year, as they improved to 6-2 overall in one-run games, after compiling a 20-25 mark last year.

"These are really important," Milone said. "You get the closer-scoring games, the low-scoring games, where you hold that team to one or two runs and get the 'W,' it boosts our confidence a lot."

"Our starting pitching has been good, and our offense has done just enough," Ka'aihue said.

Not to be forgotten is the bullpen, which has a 1.83 ERA over the last 17 games. Cook has yet to give himself an ERA, as he extended his scoreless-inning streak to 21 2/3 on Monday, representing the Oakland record for consecutive scoreless innings to start a season by a player on the Opening Day roster.

"It's not easy to pitch against teams like this with a one-run lead and having to put up zeroes for the last two innings, but it's something Cookie's been doing all year," Melvin said. "I know he's comfortable in his role.

"The confidence grows for you every time you play a good game against them. Every pitch means a lot. You have to be perfect all the time. I think the fact that we're winning some close games here recently, certainly here at home you're going to play a little bit more of them, and then against the division and a good team like the Angels, confidence-wise it goes a long way."

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