OAKLAND -- All season long, Tommy Milone has pitched beyond his years.
Recently, he's looked a lot more like the rookie he is.
Milone had his third straight subpar outing on Sunday in the A's 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays, a defeat that kept them from winning the four-game series. Toronto had been struggling mightily to score runs, but it put up six runs in six innings against Oakland's left-hander, spraying balls all over the field.
A control pitcher, Milone only walked one batter, and it was an intentional free pass at that. But his command was off in the sense that he left too many pitches in the strike zone, leading to nine Blue Jays hits.
"Horrible," Milone said of his outing. "I couldn't get that one big pitch that I needed. Like I just said, I was leaving balls up over the plate. They were capitalizing on them, hitting them in play and dropping them. Just try to forget about it and move on to the next one."
The performance was similar to Milone's last two starts, when he gave up five earned runs to both the Rays and this same Toronto team, albeit one without as many regulars missing as Sunday's edition.
Like in that last start against the Blue Jays, Milone gave up a home run to Edwin Encarnacion, a two-run blast in the fourth. And like the outing against Tampa Bay, the left-hander was undone by a big inning, with Toronto plating three in the fifth to give the team the decisive runs of the game.
It's the worst three-game stretch of Milone's season, raising concerns about the rookie wearing down as it continues to get later in the year. But A's manager Bob Melvin reiterated how consistent the lefty's been all year, and Milone isn't worried.
"There are going to be games where I don't feel as sharp," Milone said. "I can say that I haven't felt sharp in the last few games, but that happened during the middle of the season as well and I got through it. It's just one of those things where it's a bad run right now. Got to forget about it and hopefully come out of it and just worry about the next one."
Milone's struggles are particularly surprising because his last two starts have been at home, where he's been so dominant for most of the season. Prior to that Tampa Bay start, the lefty had a 0.91 ERA in eight starts at the Coliseum, but in his last two outings in Oakland, his ERA is 8.25.
In that fifth inning, Milone could point to a bit of bad luck to help explain his issues. With two outs and the bases empty, shortstop Adam Rosales lost a foul popup in the sun off the bat off Rajai Davis, a routine play that would've ended the inning. Davis eventually singled, and the next four Blue Jays reached base.
"Pretty much right off the bat it went right into the sun, and usually it comes out," Rosales said. "Stay with it, wait for it to come out, but it just never did. Just really wished I would've made the play. Definitely changed the game. Go back to that play, if I make that play, I believe we win for sure."
"It's just one of those things that happens," Milone added. "I know the guys behind me, they're trying their best and sometimes a ball gets up in the sun and there's nothing they can do. My job is to get back out there and throw quality pitches. I felt like I didn't do that after that happened."
The A's bats couldn't overcome the deficit handed to them, despite a decent offensive performance. Josh Reddick smashed his 24th home run of the season, a three-run blast in the third inning, and center fielder Coco Crisp hit an RBI double in the seventh to cut the deficit to one run.
That's where it would stay. Second baseman Jemile Weeks hit a hard liner in the bottom of the ninth with Eric Sogard on first that might've tied it, but it ended up a game-ending double play instead. There would be no drama for the walk-off prone A's on this day.
And after dropping two of three games to the Rays and splitting four with the Blue Jays, Oakland has recorded two straight non-winning series for the first time since early June with a big series against the Angels on deck.
"There were many plays in that game that don't show up in the end that if they go one way or the other, we are in a little better mood at this point," Melvin said. "You give [the team] credit, because they still are battling."
Ben Estes is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.