CLEVELAND -- Shutouts and the Cleveland Indians.
The two just go so well together as far as the A's are concerned.
It was left-hander Tommy Milone's turn to throw up zeros Tuesday, and he capitalized on the opportunity in Oakland's 7-0 victory before a crowd of 13,413 at Progressive Field.
The A's have shut out the Indians in each of their past three meetings, dating to a 7-0 win at the Oakland Coliseum on Aug. 19. Going back further, the A's have blanked Cleveland eight times over their past 24 meetings.
"They have plenty of guys in their lineup that get your attention," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We're just pitching well right now."
Milone (11-9) was making his first road start in more than a month because of scheduling and the fact that he was skipped once in the rotation. He brought a 5.77 road ERA into the game, but he scattered seven hits over six innings with five strikeouts and one walk.
Jerry Blevins, Pat Neshek and Evan Scribner completed the A's 13th shutout this season, tied with Tampa Bay for the second-most in the majors.
Oakland (71-57) is now a major league-best 34-15 since the start of July and remained in a tie for the American League's top wild-card spot with Baltimore. Both are 1½ games ahead of the Rays.
The A's have been aided this series by the Indians (55-74), who committed two errors and very much resemble the bumbling squad from the movie "Major League," minus Charlie Sheen,
A's pitchers have tossed 22 straight scoreless innings against the Indians, and Milone masterfully dodged trouble when he put runners on second and third with no outs in the fourth.
He struck out Casey Kotchman and Jason Donald swinging and then retired Jason Kipnis on a tapper toward third, with Josh Donaldson making a nifty bare-hand grab and throw to first to end the rally.
"That inning, I just took a few deep breaths," Milone said. "It was probably one of my better innings I've had all year in terms of executing pitches with runners in scoring position."
Melvin bumped Stephen Drew up a spot to lead off and Josh Reddick batted second.
With Yoenis Cespedes shifting over to center, Brandon Moss got a rare start in left field and launched a two-run homer as part of a three-RBI night. His 423-foot blast reached the shrubbery behind the center field wall and put the A's ahead 4-0.
Moss' playing time has been cut considerably with Chris Carter getting
Tuesday marked just his second start in the past eight games, but over his past five starts, Moss is 7 for 20 with five RBIs.
"This has been a very special, fun year," Moss said. "I'm happy with my role. We're winning and I've enjoyed it a lot. I told BoMel, 'Whenever it's my turn, I'll be ready to go. Don't worry about that.' "
Carter also enjoyed a big game, going 3 for 5 with a homer and two RBIs.
Blackley said he tries to keep the same mentality in either role, though his strategy is different. He doesn't have to hide any pitches when coming out of the bullpen.
"When you're relieving you can give them everything you've got," he said. "As a starter, you use the first time through the lineup to set up the second time through."
With A.J. Griffin close to returning from a shoulder injury and Dan Straily also an option in the minors, Blackley knows this might be a one-time starting gig.
"The whole season, I've just been doing whatever they want me to do," he said. "I'm cool either way."
Inge (sprained right shoulder) was eligible to come off the D.L. on Monday, but Melvin said the A's want to make sure Inge's shoulder is fully healed and that he can make all the throws necessary.
The fact that Josh Donaldson is hitting .346 while playing third during Inge's absence makes it easier for the A's to be cautious with Inge.
"In Bartolo's case, as well as he has done last year as well as through this year, at his age, after coming back from that surgery (in 2010), it makes you scratch your head," Cashman said.
Actor Terry Kiser, who played the role of Bernie in the "Weekend at Bernie's" movies, will throw out the first pitch.
Fans can buy $12 Plaza Level outfield seats by going to oaklandathletics.com/bernie and using the coupon code "bernie".