A’s clip Cardinals to win series

OAKLAND COLISEUM — Tommy Milone gave up three home runs, allowed five runs, and still managed to get his first win since June 3.

While a quality start is defined as six innings pitched giving up three or fewer earned runs, the fact Milone kept the team in it to win the rubber game makes it a quality outing for sure.

Milone lasted six innings and the Athletics twice came back from three-run deficits to beat the Cardinals 7-5 Sunday afternoon.

Manager Bob Melvin explained how Milone was able to avoid an early call to the bullpen:

A’s manager Bob Melvin

Video: CSN California

“It tells you that he’s able to work through some difficult situations. Usually he throws the ball where he wants to, today probably not his best command and balls were up in the zone. But he fought his way through given his six innings somehow after what was a pretty rocky start.”

Jed Lowrie hit a two-run homer and had three RBIs. All-Star candidate Josh Donaldson also homered and doubled for the A’s who have won 16 of their last 19 home games.

Lowrie says the A’s success against the marquee teams like the Cardinals and earlier this season against the Yankees is because of their collective work ethic:

A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“We haven’t tried to do too much because the Yankees or because the Cardinals are in town.We’ve played our game and I think that makes a statement that we’ve got a bunch of guys who know what they’re capable of and that’s what we try to do. So I think that’s the statement we’re making is that we know how to play good baseball.”

Since July of last year, Oakland is a Major League best 105-61. And while Interleague play is still something of a novelty when it comes to the opposition, the A’s proved to the rest of baseball they’re to be taken seriously. Donaldson said:

A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson

Audio: Ryan Leong/SFBay

“I know that the Pirates have the best record right now but you look at the Cardinals’ track record and the guys they have on their team’s track record, they’re if not the best, right up there. And to take two out of three over them, if people’s eyes weren’t open already I feel like it’s time for them to start taking us for real.”

The Cardinals with back-to-back home runs by Carlos Beltran and Cal alum Allen Craig. Matt Carpenter hit two doubles and also homered but the Redbirds have lost six of their last eight games. They are still 49-32 at the halfway point of the season, two games back of the Pirates who have the best record at 51-30.

An inauspicious start for Milone in the top of the first. A booming double off the wall in right field by Carpenter. Yadier Molina struck out looking but Beltran came through with a high arching drive to left-center for a two-run homer.

Craig followed with a line drive homer just over the ledge of the out of town scoreboard. Back-to-back blasts and the Cardinals with a three-run lead.

Lowrie later committed a fielding error as a grounder to short by Matt Holliday went through his legs. Unbeknownst to Lowrie, he actually stopped the ball’s progress and it was just behind him but Lowrie was so upset he swiped at the dirt in disgust. That was more than enough time for Beltran to score the Cardinals fifth run.

But in the bottom of the third, Brandon Moss got the A’s within 5-4 thanks to his two-run double. And defensive gems like the one by Donaldson in the top of the fourth snaring Matt Carpenter’s foul pop up by the third base stands are proof the A’s don’t give up.

Donaldson also provided some insurance with his opposite field home run to right in the bottom of the seventh.

Grant Balfour closed it out in the ninth and is 19-for-19 in save opportunities this season.

Notes

Milone is tied with Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie with 19 home runs allowed. Milone has given up at least one home run in each of his last eight starts and is 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA (15 earned runs in 22-2/3 innings) over his last four starts. … Coco Crisp made a diving catch robbing Holliday of a double in the first inning but left in the fourth inning with back spasms. … Balfour and Cardinals’ Edward Mujica are the only closers without a blown save in the Majors. … Lowrie extended his hitting streak to a career-high tying nine games.