OAKLAND (AP) — Tommy Milone was Oakland’s most consistent starter as a rookie in 2012. He’s doing the same thing this year, and the results are looking even better.
It sure helps that the Athletics have been giving him plenty of run support along the way.
Milone won his third straight start, Jed Lowrie drove in four runs and Oakland beat the Houston Astros 11-2 on Monday night.
“You pretty much know what you’re going to get out of Tommy every time he goes out there,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “He works quick, he knows what he wants to do and has conviction in what he’s doing. Since the day he’s gotten here his first spring training he’s been a model of consistency.”
Milone (3-0) had a season-high six strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter for the eighth time in his career. The left-hander, who won an Oakland rookie record 13 games in 2012, pitched out of jams in the fourth and sixth before leaving following Jose Altuve’s one-out RBI single in the seventh.
The A’s, who swept the Astros in Houston earlier this season, needed it after Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker were roughed up by Detroit last weekend.
Then again, Milone has been one of Oakland’s steadiest starters for some time. He’s won five straight decisions dating to last season and hasn’t lost since Sept. 3, 2012.
“I felt like no matter what pitch was put down, I was able to throw it for a strike,” Milone said. “Especially after the first inning, I was able to pound the zone and get them out of there early and keep the team in the game. Just got out of those innings pretty quickly.”
Milone got plenty of support from a lineup that struck out 38 times in the three-game series against the Tigers.
Nate Freiman added a three-run homer and Brandon Moss had three RBIs for the A’s. Oakland also benefited from eight walks — four in the first inning by Houston starter Erik Bedard.
Lowrie had two hits after struggling against Detroit. Coco Crisp doubled, walked twice and scored in his return to Oakland’s lineup. Derek Norris scored three runs while Chris Young doubled and scored twice.
Carlos Pena had two hits for the Astros, who have lost three straight following a three-game winning streak.
“Six runs in the first inning is always a tough deficit to overcome, especially with a guy like Tommy Milone on the mound,” Houston manager Bo Porter said. “You knew you had to hit your way back into the game with him on the mound. It put us behind the 8-ball.”
The A’s scored six runs on just two hits in the first inning to chase Bedard, whose perfect ERA jumped to 7.04.
Bedard (0-1) had been sharp in his first two outings this season but walked Oakland’s first three batters and then uncorked a one-out wild pitch that scored Crisp. After Josh Donaldson walked to load the bases again, Moss hit a two-run single to make it 3-0 and Freiman followed with his first home run in the majors, a towering three-run shot into the left-field seats.
Freiman, a Boston native, said his milestone moment was bittersweet following the tragic bombings earlier in the day at the Boston Marathon.
“A lot of my family is back there, and it was a nightmare,” Freiman said. “It’s an amazing feeling today but we’re not going to forget about what happened in Boston. Prayers are with everyone there.”
After Bedard was pulled, reliever Paul Clemens pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings despite dislocating the pinkie on his pitching hand. It was the longest relief outing by a Houston pitcher since Dave Borkowski went six innings against the Cubs on Aug. 15, 2006.
Crisp also doubled in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
Milone retired 10 of his first 11 batters before the Astros scored in the fourth on Pena’s RBI single.
Houston cut the lead to 6-2 on Altuve’s hit in the seventh but Oakland scored three runs in the bottom of the inning. Lowrie had a two-run single and scored on Moss’ double.
A trio of A’s relievers combined to blank the Astros over the final 2 1-3 innings.
NOTES: The A’s rested slumping outfielder Josh Reddick, who is off to a 4-for-37 start. ... Injured Oakland OF Yoenis Cespedes (hand) did some running before the game but has not yet resumed throwing. ... Melvin said INF Adam Rosales could begin a rehab assignment as early as this weekend. ... The Astros acquired minor league LHP Eric Berger from the Cleveland Indians for C Chris Wallace. ... RHP Brad Peacock, who lost to Oakland on April 5, starts for Houston on Tuesday. He’ll oppose RHP A.J. Griffin, who won his first two starts and is 9-1 in 17 career starts.