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Orioles' Chen outduels A's Milone for 3-0 victory

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Something had to give Friday night when Baltimore Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and Oakland Athletics lefty Tommy Milone faced off at the Oakland Coliseum.

Chen and Milone matched zeroes for six innings before the Orioles broke through for an unearned run in the seventh and rolled to 3-0 victory.

"It was a tough game," said Baltimore's Steve Pearce, who went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI as the designated hitter. "He was pitching well. Chen was pitching great. You almost had that sense whoever scored first was going to (win) because both pitchers were pitching great."

Chen pitched eight scoreless innings -- the longest stint of his major-league career -- allowing two hits while striking out five and walking two. Closer Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth, converting his 30th straight save dating to July 30, 2012.

Milone allowed six hits and one unearned run in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.

"He seemed to get a little stronger as it went along," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Chen. "You could tell he had a good feel for the ball tonight, which is tough to do as cold as it is. He had a good rhythm to everything he was doing.

"He had a good tempo, got us on and off the field. I tell you what, they're guy's pretty good too. It's a shame that one of the pitchers has to lose that game."

Milone fell to 3-2, losing his second straight start after opening the season 3-0.

"You're trying to give your team the win, and he's going out there throwing up zeroes," Milone said of Chen. "I'm trying to do the same thing. Sometimes you've just got to tip your cap. He threw a good game. He did a great job. He was keeping us off-balance from the get-go. Throwing a lot of strikes, keeping his pitch count down and getting a lot of weak contact."

Chen said the key to his success Friday was keeping things simple.

"Not physically but mentally this is probably the best start I've had in my major league (career)," Chen said. "Today I got the ball and I just let the ball go. I didn't want to think that much because the last couple outings and by the end of last year I thought too much and it confused me a little bit. So today I just let it go."

Baltimore added two runs in the ninth off reliever Ryan Cook, taking advantage of three walks and an error.

The Orioles beat the A's for the second straight night and won for the eighth time in their past 11 games. The A's lost their third straight game and seventh in their past eight.

Orioles' shortstop J.J. Hardy led off the seventh with a single to right and took second on an error when the ball popped out of right fielder Josh Reddick's glove and Reddick slipped while pursuing it.

Then, with one out, Pearce singled sharply up the middle, just out of the reach of diving shortstop Adam Rosales, bringing Hardy home.

Pearce, who got a rare start, entered the game hitting .136 and raised his average to .200. He drove in the Orioles' first run in the seventh and nearly homered in the fifth when he launched a leadoff double high off the wall in center near the 400-foot mark.

"It was huge," Pearce said of his game. "Personally, it feels great to do that, but when you can do something for yourself and help the club, it feels awesome. I'm just glad I'm swinging the bat and am a little more comfortable at the plate."

After Milone got the second out, Sean Doolittle came out of the bullpen and struck out Nick Markakis to end the seventh.

When the Orioles took a 1-0 lead into the eighth, they had to like their chances. They had won 101 straight regular-season games when leading after seven innings. Make that 102 straight now.

Chen didn't allow a hit until A's center fielder Coco Crisp singled with two out in the third, ripping a sinking liner that Orioles third baseman Manny Machado couldn't handle. A's third baseman Josh Donaldson struck out looking to end the threat.

In the fourth, Chen got some help from center fielder Adam Jones, who made a running catch on Jed Lowrie's deep blast to right center and held onto the ball after hitting the wall. A's first baseman Nate Freiman ripped a one-out double off the wall in right center in the fifth, but Chen got the next two A's in order.

"It's something different each and every time," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Chen's success against Oakland. "At the end of the day he's got a fastball that gets on you faster than you think. He pitches with it up in the zone, up and down, and he gets a lot of pop-ups and fly balls. Probably a few more sliders today, early-count breaking balls, but it's the fastball we have trouble with."

NOTES: The A's kicked off a two-day celebration in honor of their 1973 World Series championship team. Rollie Fingers, Sal Bando, Vida Blue, Joe Rudi and Reggie Jackson are among a long list of players taking part. ... Adam Rosales, who went 1-for-2 off the bench Thursday in his first game since coming off the disabled list, made his first start of the season, at shortstop. After making 21 starts at short, Lowrie made his first start at second base and made a fielding error in the ninth. "It's more about Rosie," Melvin said of the moves. "The versatility of Jed probably works against him at times. He'll still play some shortstop. His versatility would suggest he could play anywhere up the middle. And Rosie's best position is probably shortstop." ... Casper Wells made his first start since being acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on April 22. He started in left field and batted eighth, going 0-for-3. ... Orioles' leadoff hitter Nate McLouth, who leads the team in walks (14) and steals (7), was out of the starting lineup but pinch hit in the ninth and had an RBI. "I think part of the reason Nate's doing so well is he's got really fresh legs," Showalter said. "... Catcher Taylor Teagarden will "probably" start Saturday against the Oakland A's while regular starter Matt Wieters gets the day off, Showalter said. Teagarden, who has made three starts this season, is 0-for-11. ... Showalter still hasn't named a starting pitcher for Monday's game at Seattle. Left-hander Zach Britton would be one option if he's not needed in relief against Oakland. Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia is 3-0 for Triple-A Norfolk. "We're going to get through these next three games as good as we can, then see where we are with our options," Showalter said.
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