OAKLAND -- Tommy Milone went where he didn't want to go Saturday night before pitching the A's to a second consecutive 2-1 win over the Kansas City Royals at the Coliseum.

After a streak in which they'd gone 8-18 to fall two games under .500, the back-to-back wins over the Royals have the A's back even at 22-22.

"That was Houdini," manager Bob Melvin said in describing Milone's ability to skirt trouble while allowing one run in six innings.

Milone's effort was good enough to enable the A's sluggish offense to rise up against longtime nemesis Ervin Santana and earn the A's lefty a win after five straight losses.

"Houdini?" Milone said, pondering what Melvin said. "Yeah, I definitely did not make it easy on myself."

Down 1-0 in the second, Milone allowed a single and two walks to load the bases with none out. It was a time when the game could have blown up in Milone's face.

Instead, Milone asserted himself, getting a pop fly and back-to-back strikeouts, keeping the game close.

"Tommy stuck to his guns in the second inning," closer Grant Balfour said. "He kept fighting, kept battling. And he kept us in the game in the process. It wasn't his best game, but it was a good one for him to win. In a word, he was resilient."

The A's got even in the sixth inning against Santana on an Eric Sogard double, a wild pitch, a Coco Crisp walk, a sacrifice fly by Jed Lowrie and a two-out bullet of a triple to the deepest part of center field from Brandon Moss.

Afterward, Moss was more interested in talking about Milone than about his own part in the mini-drama. As important as the second inning was, Moss pointed also to the fourth, when a leadoff double and a fly ball gave the Royals a man on third with one out. Milone struck out the next two batters, keeping the A's close.

"Milone was unbelievable," Moss said. "He worked out of jam after jam. There was the bases-loaded, none out. There was the leadoff double. He struggled, but he settled in and pitched his game. And that's what he's capable of."

By the sixth inning, Milone had thrown 111 pitches and was done for the night. But the A's rally in the bottom of the sixth meant those 111 pitches would not go in vain. And Milone was jumping around as if he was back in high school when Moss tripled over Lorenzo Cain's head to bring home what would prove to be the winning run.

"I was jumping up and down, real excited," Milone said.

So too was the sellout crowd of 35,067, lured by a Star Trek-themed evening of postgame fireworks.

They saw Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Balfour throw three innings of scoreless relief to bring the win home.

  • Chris Young was activated from the disabled list before the game and was in Saturday's starting lineup. To make room for Young, first baseman Daric Barton was designated for assignment. It's the second DFA for Barton this year, giving the A's 10 days to trade him, release him or sign him to a minor league deal if he clears waivers as he did back in early April. The A's would like to re-sign him, but aren't sure he will clear waivers this time.

  • Melvin said shortstop Hiro Nakajima, on the disabled list all season with a left hamstring injury, is finally running pain-free. "He's going down the line 100 percent and moving good on defense," Melvin said.

  • Right fielder Josh Reddick is eligible to come off the D.L. on Wednesday, but it's unclear if he will. Melvin said Reddick has taken some swings the last few days but that he has not been deemed ready to take batting practice.