OAKLAND, Calif. -- Tommy Milone threw so many pitches in the first two innings that Oakland A's manager Bob Melvin feared he wouldn't make it far into the game.
The A's left-hander not only kept going through six innings, he ended his career-high five-game losing streak in Oakland's 2-1 victory over the Royals on Saturday night at the Oakland Coliseum.
"That was Houdini out there," Melvin said. "He was at 50 pitches with three outs, about 70 with six or seven outs, and he goes six innings? To do that, you have to be a very clear thinker, just worry about the particular moment, the particular pitch.
"I've been impressed with his outings before, but I don't know if I've been impressed with any more than that one."
On the other side, Kansas City starter Ervin Santana was his usual effective self against the A's, but one night after teammate James Shields had an equally strong outing and lost, Santana did the same, and by the same final score.
"Back-to-back games like that, Shields pitched great, Erv pitched great," Royals DH Billy Butler said. "The offense didn't give him any support."
'Right now, there is no room for error for any of them," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Santana entered the evening with a lifetime 14-5 record and 2.03 ERA against the A's and he was going for career win No. 100, but he again was let down by lack of run support.
"I don't think about it," Santana said of failing to get No. 100, "but thank you for telling me."
In his eight starts this season, Kansas City and its opponents have scored a grand total of 43 runs. Santana's run support of 3.09 per game is among the worst in the league.
"We had a situation where we had the bases loaded with no outs and we could not score," Santana said. "In the end, you know how it is."
Kansas City took the lead on a two-out double by Alex Gordon and an RBI bloop single by Butler in the first inning, but the Royals couldn't collect more against Milone despite his troubles allowing base runners.
"He shouldn't have gone that deep in the game," Butler said. "We had chances, bases loaded -- you're supposed to capitalize on that."
Milone gave up five hits and walked three in six innings.
"You know what, I always feel like I'm going to make it out of every inning," Milone said. "You have to have confidence in yourself."
Milone said he was mostly using fastballs in and changeups with runners in scoring position.
"You probably have to bear down a little more, make better pitches," he said. "You don't leave anything up in the zone or over the plate or walk anyone."
The Royals were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position against him.
"Unbelievable, unbelievable," A's reliever Sean Doolittle said. "I looked up in the second inning and he was battling -- to hold them at one run for six innings, I really can't say enough. Gutsy. He grinded it out. I don't know if it was fun to watch -- nerve-racking at times."
Oakland had just two hits in the first five innings -- and on one of them, Eric Sogard was thrown out by Lorenzo Cain while trying to stretch a single into a double in the third.
In the sixth, however, Sogard hit a for-sure double to right center and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Sogard said he felt as if he was seeing the ball well against Santana and was comfortable hitting with two strikes against him.
Asked if he knew much about Santana's history with the A's, Sogard said, "I heard on TV, but I tried not to listen to it, like 'Oh, no, he's going to dominate us.'"
Santana walked Coco Crisp, and Jed Lowrie sent in Sogard with a sacrifice fly to center
With two outs, Brandon Moss ripped a triple to dead center, easily scoring Crisp with the go-ahead run.
Ryan Cook, Doolittle and Grant Balfour finished up for Oakland. Balfour has converted 26 consecutive save opportunities, one behind Andrew Bailey for the second spot on Oakland's all-time list. Dennis Eckersley saved 40 in a row from Sept. 15, 1991 to Aug. 7, 1992.
The Royals have lost nine of their past 12; Oakland is 4-3 since a season-high five-game losing streak.
NOTES: The A's activated Chris Young from the disabled list. Young, who missed 18 days with a left quad strain, was in right field on Saturday. ... To clear a roster spot for Young, Oakland designated 1B Daric Barton for assignment. Barton, who hit .143 with a homer and three RBI in eight games with the A's, cleared waivers earlier this year when he was demoted before Opening Day. ... With the A's using a left-handed starter, Milone, the Royals had Cain leading off and David Lough, who had a nice season debut the night before, was not in the lineup. ... A's bench coach Chip Hale was away at his son Eddie's high-school graduation, so bullpen coach Darren Bush served as bench coach and roving minor-league pitching instructor Scott Emerson worked as the bullpen coach.