Twins-Athletics Preview

Tommy Milone's familiarity with pitching in Oakland was a major reason why Minnesota Twins manager Paul Molitor wanted him to start in this series.

Milone makes his first start against the team that traded him to the Twins nearly a year ago when he faces the Athletics on Sunday.

Oakland (42-51) dealt Milone to Minnesota last July 30 for outfielder Sam Fuld. Milone (5-1, 2.84 ERA) went 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA over his final 11 starts with the Athletics and requested a trade when he was sent to the minors last July 5 after the club acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs.

He will return to Oakland, where he went 15-8 with a 2.99 ERA in 34 starts with the Athletics. That's why his manager wanted to make sure the left-hander would pitch in this series.

"Tommy pitched in Oakland and has always done well there," Molitor told MLB's official website.

Milone is limiting left-handed hitters to a .167 mark for the second-best mark among lefties who have only started this year. The Oakland hitter he has the most experience against is Billy Butler, who is 8 for 16 against him.

He is 3-0 with a 1.84 ERA in seven starts since being recalled June 4 from Triple-A Rochester. Milone allowed one run in seven innings to earn a 5-3 victory over Baltimore on July 8.

The Athletics are 5-17 against left-handed starters for baseball's worst mark.

Oakland evened this three-game series with Saturday's thrilling 3-2 victory when Stephen Vogt singled in Billy Burns in the 10th inning.

''This team is resilient and picks each other up no matter what happens,'' Vogt said. ''A win like tonight can propel us to play the way we know how to play for a while.''

A dramatic ninth inning saw Joe Mauer double in a run and Miguel Sano follow with a sacrifice fly to give Minnesota (50-41) a 2-1 lead. Closer Glen Perkins then suffered his first blown save and failed to add to his league-leading total of 28 by allowing pinch-hitter Jake Smolinski's two-out bloop RBI single.

''It was bound to happen,'' Perkins said. ''I've said all along I'm going to blow a save. I'm going to blow more than one. I've got to be able to bounce back.''

The Twins had their four-game win streak snapped with their second loss in nine games. Oakland improved baseball's worst record in one-run games to 9-22.

The A's will start journeyman Jesse Chavez (4-9, 3.40), who has posted a 5.82 ERA in losing his last three outings. He was charged with four runs in five innings of a 6-2 loss at Yankee Stadium on July 9.

The right-hander's nine losses before the All-Star break were the second-most by an Oakland pitcher in the last 17 years with Joe Blanton's 12 in 2008 the only higher total.

Chavez has lost the most day games in baseball, going 1-6 with a 4.29 ERA in eight games - seven starts.

There is hope for him Sunday since he gave up one unearned run over 7 1-3 innings with seven strikeouts in a 2-1 victory at Minnesota on May 5.

Torii Hunter, who turned 40 on Saturday, is 5 for 7 against Chavez.

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