DETROIT (AP) — Tommy Milone pitched five innings Tuesday night and walked away with a complete-game victory.
Not bad at all.
Milone settled down after a slow start and Brandon Moss hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Justin Verlander, leading the Oakland Athletics to a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers in a game cut short by rain.
Seth Smith hit a leadoff homer in the sixth, and Oakland had the bases loaded with no one out when the tarp was pulled on the field due to the weather. It was called after an 80-minute delay.
Milone (10-9) allowed three runs in the first, and then pitched four scoreless innings. The left-hander improved to 2-2 with a 4.97 ERA in his last six starts.
“I’ve had some five-inning complete games in the minors, but I’ve never had one in the majors,” Milone said. “That was a nice break.”
Oakland manager Bob Melvin thought about going to closer Grant Balfour when the rain picked up in the fifth inning. But Milone retired the top of Detroit’s lineup in order.
“I was thinking about that, because it was really starting to rain hard, and I knew the forecast wasn’t good,” he said. “I was going to go to the bullpen pretty quickly if Tommy got into trouble.”
Detroit dropped its second straight game, but the biggest concern was another sluggish outing for Verlander (12-10), who was charged with four runs, three earned, and four hits in five innings.
The right-hander, who won the AL Cy Young Award and MVP honor in 2011, is 0-2 with a 5.00 ERA in his last four starts. But the Tigers have a comfortable lead in the AL Central and Verlander is hoping to use the next month to figure out what’s wrong.
“My deadline right now is the playoffs,” he said.
Verlander and Milone each got off to a slow start, combined for 78 pitches during a 45-minute first inning.
Oakland pushed across two runs before Verlander recorded an out. Coco Crisp had a leadoff walked and Josh Donaldson singled. The runners moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Jed Lowrie’s bloop double to right.
Seth Smith had a two-out walk before Verlander retired Alberto Callaspo for the final out. The 44 pitches for Verlander were the most he had ever thrown in an inning.
“Even in that inning, there were times that I felt like I had really good stuff, but I couldn’t control it,” Verlander said. “I’d get in a rhythm for a couple pitches, and then get out of sync again.”
The game was tied before Milone got an out. With a steady rain beginning to fall, Detroit’s first four batters reached. Prince Fielder had a two-run single, and Miguel Cabrera came home when Omar Infante’s routine grounder to second went under Callaspo’s glove for an error.
Milone then shut down Detroit for the rest of the night.
“I don’t exactly know what changed, but something worked,” he said. “I couldn’t get comfortable in the first inning, especially from the stretch, but once I got back into the windup in the second, I was able to go after guys.”
Verlander ran into more trouble when Moss walked with two out in the third and hustled around to score on Yoenis Cespedes’ tying double down the left-field line on an 0-2 pitch.
The Athletics struck again with two out in the fifth. Moss hit a drive to center for his 22nd homer.
“That was probably the hardest rain I’ve ever pitched in,” Verlander said. “I thought I could grip a changeup, but it came out flat and he crushed it.”
Bruce Rondon replaced Verlander in the sixth, and Smith hit his second pitch over the scoreboard in right-center for a 6-3 lead. The next three batters reached on two singles and a walk, but then the rain became too heavy for play to continue.
“That worked out really well for us, because we didn’t have to use the bullpen,” Melvin said. “We did a great job against Verlander — we were patient and we were able to really boost his pitch count. We only got the two runs in the first, but we made him throw 40-some pitches, and that’s probably why we were able to add on in the later innings.”
Rondon had been checked by trainer Kevin Rand earlier in the inning, and appeared to be favoring his right leg as he came off the field.
NOTES: The Tigers activated C Alex Avila from the concussion disabled list and optioned C Bryan Holaday to Triple-A Toledo. ... Detroit had been hoping to get reliever Octavio Dotel (elbow) back by Sept. 1, but he had to leave Tuesday’s rehab outing with Toledo after being hit by a comebacker from the first batter he faced. ... Melvin confirmed Bartolo Colon (groin) will start Thursday afternoon against Detroit. Brett Anderson (foot) is also close to returning from the disabled list, but will go to the bullpen when he is activated.