Milone makes first start for Twins in Houston

( - Lefty Tommy Milone makes his first start with Minnesota since coming over in a July trade when the Twins visit Minute Maid Park on Monday night for the first of three games with the Houston Astros.

Milone was a member of the starting rotation in Oakland for several turns before being bumped to the bullpen and ultimately dealt to the Twins on July 31 in exchange for outfielder Sam Fuld. He pitched once at Triple-A Rochester -- throwing seven innings of one-run ball -- before coming back to the big leagues after Minnesota traded Kevin Correia to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Milone has actually gone 11 starts without a defeat, winning six decisions in that stretch and maintaining a 2.62 earned run average. The Minnesota starting rotation is 28th in the majors with a composite 4.96 ERA.

He'll see a familiar face in Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki, with whom he played in Oakland.

"I loved it," Suzuki said. "I've had some pretty good success with him as a teammate. The one thing I told them was how great a guy he was. He works hard. He does everything the right way."

Milone has split two decisions in five starts against the Astros with a 4.78 ERA.

His arrival in Minnesota corresponds with the return of Joe Mauer after missing 34 games with a right oblique injury.

Mauer and Co. face Houston starter Brad Peacock, who's lost three starts in a row overall and has been raked for 15 runs in 8 2/3 innings over the last two in particular.

He made a brief trip to Triple-A Oklahoma City between the last pair. In his first 11 starts with Houston, he'd maintained a 3.71 ERA.

"I need to go out there and relax and have fun and pitch instead of being anxious out there," he said.

One start against Minnesota saw him allow three runs on four hits with 10 strikeouts in seven innings.

On Sunday in Oakland, Brian Dozier and Josh Willingham homered as the Twins beat the Athletics, 6-1, to avoid a four-game sweep. Suzuki knocked in two runs and scored a run for the Twins, who snapped a 12-game losing streak to Oakland. It was Minnesota's first win against the A's since Sept. 10, 2013.

Minnesota starter Phil Hughes (12-8) allowed one run on four hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings. He improved to 8-3 on the road this season.

In Houston, Shin-Soo Choo and Adrian Beltre both hit solo home runs as the Texas Rangers topped the Astros, 6-2, in the finale of a three-game series.

Houston had won seven in a row against its AL West foes but could not overcome Dallas Keuchel (10-8) giving up a season-worst tying five runs.

Tampa took two of three from the Twins earlier in the year.