- Associated Press - Sunday, April 27, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - Tommy Milone said he had his best outing of the year Sunday against the Astros.

Milone, however, could not get out of the seventh.

Collin McHugh allowed two hits over 8 2-3 stellar innings as Houston beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1.

Milone (0-2) allowed four runs on five hits with two strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings. The left-hander was just as effective as McHugh for most of the day, retiring 12 out of 13, including nine in a row, but he ran into trouble in the seventh.

Tommy pitched great,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “Very few balls were hit hard. He pitched as well as we’ve seen him in awhile.”

Milone said he was using mainly the two-seam fastball and changeup combination inside and outside to keep the Astros off-balance.

“I was able to command the fastball and for the most part keep off-speed pitches low. It definitely felt the best so far this year.”

McHugh (2-0) followed up his first outing where he struck out 12 and allowed three hits in 6 2-3 innings at Seattle on Tuesday with another dominant performance.

“He had a great cutter early on and was a little bit harder with his stuff early on,” Melvin said of McHugh. “Then coming back later in the game he mixed in his curveball better and his change-up. He really did keep us off balance. His velocity on his fastball suggested 90-91, but it played a little better. It was the cutters that were getting in on our lefties that was getting them to pop up.”

He struck out seven and walked three, allowing one run in the longest outing of his career. His previous longest outing had been seven innings on Aug. 23, 2012, against Colorado when he was a member of the New York Mets.

After the first, McHugh retired 23 of the next 24 batters, including 19 straight before Brandon Moss was hit by a pitch with two outs in the ninth. Moss stole second and came around to score on Alberto Callaspo’s single - McHugh’s first run allowed in 15 1-3 innings this season.

Raul Valdes got the final out to complete the two hitter.

“Anytime you haven’t seen a guy before it makes it a little more difficult in the first at-bat, but after that you should have a pretty good idea of what it’s like,” Josh Donaldson said of not seeing McHugh before Sunday. “He kind of slings the ball a little bit. Stuff wise, I think his stuff was OK, but it wasn’t anything special.”

Jed Lowrie, who singled in the first inning, drew a walk in the third for McHugh’s lone base runner until the ninth.

The right-hander, who Houston claimed off waivers from Colorado during the offseason, got out of trouble in the first after loading the bases with two outs with a walk to Callaspo by getting Josh Reddick to pop out to end the inning.

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