OAKLAND -- The likelihood is the Yankees will remember this four-game series as, at worst, a speed bump. For Oakland, it's shaping up as a turning point.
The Yankees-as-litmus-test continued on Friday night for the A's, who downed New York, 3-2, behind rookie left-hander Tommy Milone and a walk-off, line single to right from Brandon Moss in the ninth inning. New York has dropped the first two games of this series, and the A's are surging with wins in seven of their last eight and five walk-offs in their last nine home games.
The A's have been making the Yankees swing it, with no walks issued by Oakland pitchers yet this series.
"Oh, they're tough," said Yankees catcher Russell Martin, whose solo home run in the eighth got New York on the board two pitches after Milone was pulled. "Really it starts with their pitching. Not many teams can contain us like they have in the last couple games. Their guy tonight, I didn't really see a good pitch to hit."
The walk-off came against Yankees righty Cody Eppley, who came on with one out and none on in the ninth and gave up singles to Yoenis Cespedes and Jonny Gomes to set up Moss' first-pitch hit. It's Eppley's first loss with the Yankees in 33 games, and one of his only blemishes.
"I just wanted to get ahead," Eppley said of his sinker on the outside corner that Moss pulled to right for the game-winner. "I wanted something down and away. I thought it got there. Maybe outer third instead of maybe the corner, but at that point I didn't really want to get behind."
The Yankees had just tied in the top of the frame, on a Robinson Cano opposite-field home run off A's closer Ryan Cook. Cook, Oakland's only All-Star, has given up solo homers to the Yankees on two straight nights.
Cano extended his hit streak to 23 games in his previous at-bat, a single in the seventh that was not solidly hit.
Briefly, the Cano homer made good on the pitching of Yankees relievers Boone Logan and David Robertson. The A's had the bags full in the seventh inning and two on in the eighth with two out, and both times did not score.
"It's not what you want to do, but it shows you something about him that he's able to get out of those innings," manager Joe Girardi said of Robertson.
Milone went seven innings, walked none and struck out a career-high 10, matching the record for an A's pitcher against the Yanks. The last time an Oakland pitcher reached the mark was nearly two decades ago, on July 2, 1993. Bobby Witt did it.
Yankees starter Ivan Nova, meanwhile, continued to get burned by extra-base hits. He worked out of trouble in a 26-pitch first inning but was fortunate to allow just two runs on a night he gave up nine hits, five of them for extra bases.
It's possible that the young pitcher focuses better when he most needs to.
"I know the guys are going to hit," said Nova, who struck out six and walked one in 6 2/3 innings. "I'm trying to leave my team close in the game as much as I can. When I have men on base, that's the time. Me and Freddy [Garcia] were talking after I had a man on third with one out, he told me, 'Why don't you throw 94-95 earlier in the inning, to the first hitter in the inning? Why do you wait until you have men on base to throw hard?' That's something I have to think about, figure out why I do that."
A pair of doubles off Nova came from A's right fielder Josh Reddick, who also pegged Mark Teixeira on a first-to-third attempt in the fourth inning with a perfect throw. The A's scored their first two runs in the third and fourth.
New York's only run until the ninth came on Martin's 10th homer of the season. That went to left field off another southpaw, Jerry Blevins, who entered to begin the seventh.
"I liked the way we were able to come back there, because [Milone] was pretty stingy," Girardi said. "You get a couple runs off the relievers, and you think, you know what? I think we're going to be able to come back and get ahead. But we weren't able to."
Before Martin and Cano homered, Milone worked out of a sixth-inning rally that was shaping up similarly to Thursday's, when the Yanks got on the board in a 4-3 loss. Alex Rodriguez, who was back at third base Friday, grounded into a force to end the threat with Derek Jeter on second and Teixeira first.
Again in the seventh, Milone worked out of trouble after Cano extended his hit streak to start the frame. Nick Swisher tweaked his left quad/hip area running to first base on a groundout in the inning and left the game. He is day to day.
The Yankees' streak of at least three runs scored ended at 43 games, a franchise-record that falls five short of the live-ball era record of 48, set by the 1994 Indians.