OAKLAND -- With the A's having shown a willingness to remake their starting rotation earlier in the day, it was up to Tommy Milone to give evidence why the club should stick with him. Exhibit One was his part in an 8-0 win over Washington on Friday night.

The A's had not won any of the first five games that Milone had started. The left-hander was on shaky ground for that reason alone. The ground firmed up nicely over the course of the evening. He allowed two hits, both to Scott Hairston, both with two out. The Nationals didn't get a runner past second base for eight innings before Fernando Rodriguez finished up.

Milone started just a few hours after another struggling A's starter, Dan Straily, was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room for Drew Pomeranz in an effort to put a jolt into the A's rotation.

"It could be that it's a vote of confidence that it wasn't him," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Milone. "He's a guy who won 25 games (combined) the last two years. We've seen this game from him before."

In the clubhouse, comparisons were made to Milone's June 20, 2012 start against the Dodgers when he pitched a three-hit complete game to beat Los Angeles 4-1. In that one he walked one and struck out two. Friday he walked three but struck out seven.

"This was as good as it was against the Dodgers," Milone said. "I had some games like this in 2012, not so much in 2013."


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And not so much in 2014, until Friday. Perhaps it helped he was pitching against the team that traded him away after the 2011 season to get Gio Gonzalez from the A's. Gonzalez will pitch Sunday for the Nationals.

"You think about it," Milone said. "Half that lineup I know."

Catcher Derek Norris, who also came to the A's in that trade, said there might have been some payback in it for Milone. But for Norris himself, it was more a case of "this is what you could have had."

Norris had two of the A's dozen hits, has 19 hits in his last 38 at-bats over 14 games and is hitting .384. His primary job, however, is to bring his pitcher home with a win, and he did that in fine style Friday.

Milone hadn't made it through the first three innings in any start this year without allowing runs. This time around, with his fastball command much improved, he gave up one walk and one hit in the first two innings, then set down 11 consecutive Nationals hitters while the A's were busy building up a seven-run lead on the strength of home runs by John Jaso, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes.

"This time I felt good early," Milone said. "And that's when you get your rhythm going."

He carried it through eight innings and 108 pitches, and said after the game he was sorry he hadn't pushed harder to stay in the game. Instead, Melvin told him he'd had enough and Rodriguez made his A's debut a year and a month later than he'd hoped. He had Tommy John surgery last year, and this was his return.

If it was up to Milone, he would have completed the game, but upon reflection he said, "I feel just as good about this the way it happened."

  • Jaso's solo shot in the inning and the back-to-back homers by Moss (with a man on) and Cespedes in the fifth came against Doug Fister, a pitcher the A's had seen with the Detroit Tigers in the past two postseasons. It was Fister's first game back after six weeks on the disabled list with a right lat strain.

  • The A's put right-handed reliever Ryan Cook on the 15-day disabled list Friday, but both the team and Cook himself believe the right forearm strain isn't serious and doesn't need surgery. "When I left here (Wednesday), I was 100 percent confident this wasn't a Tommy John (surgery) thing," Cook said. "And that's what the MRI showed. So I shouldn't be out long."

  • Center fielder Coco Crisp, who hurt his neck in a collision with the wall in the first game Wednesday, had an MRI on Friday that showed his neck is sound. Melvin said Crisp's status is day-to-day.

  • Melvin said Pomeranz, who made his first start in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader against Seattle, will move into the starting rotation. Pomeranz has a 1.45 ERA after the five scoreless innings he threw in that one, allowing two hits and no walks. He'll start against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

  • Space was made for Pomeranz in the rotation when the A's optioned Straily to Sacramento. Straily was 1-2 with a 4.93 ERA in seven starts, but the A's weren't happy with his command of the strike zone.

  • The A's dipped into the roster at Sacramento to call up Rodriguez and Joe Savery to fill out the roster with Straily and Cook off it for the time being. "The velocity is still there," Rodriguez said. "I'm a different pitcher though because I spent last year on the bench watching games." As for Savery, "he gives us a third left-handed option in the bullpen with Pomeranz going into the rotation," Melvin said.

    SATURDAY'S GAME

    Washington (Tanner Roark 2-1) at A's
    (Sonny Gray 4-1) vs. 6:05 p.m. CSNCA