BOSTON -- The historic confines of Fenway Park have doubled as a laughable circus scene in recent years, at least when the A's are in town.
The A's plated at least five runs for just the third time this season in Monday's series opener, but it wasn't enough to offset the club's latest beating in Beantown. An 11-6 loss, at one point a 10-run deficit, only added to a mounting pile of frustration, having come on the heels of a walk-off defeat to the Orioles and a nine-run loss to the Birds in Baltimore.
And it was felt most by starter Tommy Milone, who became the latest A's pitcher to experience a meltdown on Yawkey Way, where Oakland's staff surrendered 41 runs in six games, five losses, last season. Since 2006, the A's are 9-19 when playing the Red Sox on the road, compared to an 18-10 ledger in Oakland.
For Milone, who gave up eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits, including a career-high three home runs, in 4 2/3 innings, it was the worst outing of a young career that spans just 10 starts.
"I didn't feel horrible tonight," said Milone, who was forced to throw 98 pitches while watching his ERA rise from 2.00 to 3.69. "I felt like I was making some good pitches, but a good-hitting team like that, you make a couple mistakes, and they're going to score a bunch of runs."
"We got a tough lineup, man," said Darnell McDonald, whose Boston team has tallied 33 extra-base hits in the past week. "We've been swinging the bats. I know that he's had a good ERA coming into the game, we don't really have a lot of history against him. ... I guess he was missing."
The southpaw, who had given up just six earned runs in his previous four starts combined, appeared unfazed by his surroundings in the first inning, with Dustin Pedroia the only batter to reach courtesy of the first of two errors on the night by Jemile Weeks. But the bottom half of the second inning proved plenty damaging after the A's handed him a 1-0 leading in the top portion.
David Ortiz led off the frame with a solo shot to right field, a scene that would repeat itself in the fifth, with one out. Those two hits are the only allowed by Milone to a left-hander this season, as he had previously retired 13 straight.
"Both fastballs, supposed to be a little more in than they were," Milone said, "but they caught too much of the plate, and obviously a good hitter like that is going to hit those pitches."
The first paved the way for three more runs in the inning, which saw all nine Sox batters step to the plate. Boston extended its lead to 6-1 in the third, when McDonald launched a two-run homer into the Green Monster Seats, and Ortiz's second home run highlighted his team's five-run fifth.
Josh Reddick, back in Fenway Park for the first time since being traded from the Red Sox in December, believes he could have prevented such a high number of runs, as he barely missed snagging Ortiz's ball while flipping over the low right-field wall.
"Heck, he almost caught it," manager Bob Melvin said.
"I scaled it pretty good, and when I jumped, it kind of jackknifed me in half, and that's all it needed to get a little tip of the glove and go over," Reddick said. "Tough break."
Milone was responsible for two of the runs in that inning, as Jordan Norberto relieved him with one on and two outs only to give up a ground-rule double to Marlon Byrd before issuing a free pass to Nick Punto, both of whom came around to score on Mike Aviles' three-run shot to left-center.
Oakland's comeback attempt against Boston righty Clay Buchholz amounted to five runs in the seventh, thanks to a two-run single from Coco Crisp and a three-run shot from Reddick off his former teammate and good friend, but it was too little and too late for the A's, as their troubles on the East Coast continued.
They went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position, leaving 10 on base. The seventh, though productive, had the makings of being game-changing, as Daric Barton came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, but he struck out looking on a 2-2 fastball.
"We have the bases loaded and one base hit, and it's a whole different game," Melvin said. "One hit away from making it less than a grand slam. We had some opportunities we could have capitalized."
Barton is now batting .184 on the season and is joined under the Mendoza Line by Seth Smith (.197), who struck out four times in as many at-bats Monday, and Weeks (.181). Cliff Pennington is at the .200 mark, with fellow regulars Crisp (.206) and Kurt Suzuki (.228) barely breathing above it.
Their task, along with Milone's and the rest of the pitching staff, won't get any easier in the new month, with Tampa Bay, Toronto, Detroit, Texas and New York among the opponents on the calendar. But, first, two more contests in the not-so-friendly park that is Fenway await.
"Obviously it's something you look forward to, pitching in Boston, but once I got out there, it's kind of the same thing, out there pitching and hoping for the same result," Milone said. "Today we didn't, but we'll move on to the next one."