Rays-Athletics Preview

The Associated Press

While the Oakland Athletics' Tommy Milone was hit hard again on the road his last time out, he continues to baffle opponents by the Bay.

With Milone looking to continue his mastery at home, Oakland tries to build on another walkoff win Tuesday night in the second of three game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Milone (9-7, 3.51 ERA) saw his road woes continue Thursday in a 10-4 loss to Toronto, yielding six runs and eight hits over seven innings. The left-hander dropped to 4-6 with a 5.77 ERA as the visiting pitcher - a far cry from his efforts in Oakland.

Milone was been nearly untouchable at home, going 5-1 with a major league-best 0.91 ERA over eight starts while holding opponents to a .184 average.

"It goes back to being more comfortable there," he told the A's official website. "One of the reasons is probably because it's so big. Obviously, you always like pitching better at home than on the road."

Milone was at his best during his last home start July 20, striking out a career-high 10 over seven scoreless innings of a 3-2 walkoff win over the New York Yankees.

Another gem from Milone could go a long way with Oakland (56-46) all but certain to be exhausted following Monday's 4-3, 15-inning victory. Jemile Weeks came through with a sacrifice fly in the 15th to give the A's their MLB-best 12th walkoff win.

Oakland improved to 19-4 this month - its best record in July in franchise history. The A's sit in first place in the AL wild-card standings and 3 1/2 games back of AL West-leading Texas.

"This has been an awesome ride, just to be doing what we're doing," All-Star reliever Ryan Cook said. "This is exactly where we want to be."

Tampa Bay (53-50) dropped to 4-3 on its nine-game road trip and has dropped 12 of 17 to the A's.

"It stinks any time you lose a game," starter David Price said. "It's tough when you play for as long as we did tonight. To not be able to win that game stings a little bit."

The Rays will try to bounce back behind James Shields (8-7, 4.52), whose name has come up in trade rumors but appears unlikely to get moved before Tuesday's deadline. The right-hander has been a bit shaky of late, going 1-3 with a 6.15 ERA over his last seven outings.

Shields struck out 10 for the second consecutive outing Thursday but couldn't overcome a career worst-tying five walks while surrendering five runs in six innings of a 6-2 loss at Baltimore.

"(Shields is) throwing well, it's just kind of exasperating for him not being able to put hitters away in those moments when he normally is able to do so," manager Joe Maddon told the Rays' official website. "There's these little command issues with him that normally do not occur."

In his most recent appearance against the A's, Shields was tagged for a career worst-tying 10 runs and 12 hits over four innings of a 13-4 road loss July 27, 2011. He is 0-2 with an 8.34 ERA over his last four visits to Oakland.

Milone's only appearance against the Rays came in a 9-5 road victory May 6. He earned the win despite allowing five runs in as many innings and issuing four walks to match a career high.

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