SAN FRANCISCO -- Oakland manager Bob Melvin leaned back in his clubhouse chair and exhaled -- on the winning side of the Bay Bridge Series rivalry 3 hours, 43 minutes of intense baseball later.
Tommy Milone won his second successive decision following a five-start skid, pinch-hitter Nate Freiman had a two-run single, and the Athletics beat the San Francisco Giants 9-6 on Wednesday night in a back-and-forth duel for their sixth consecutive victory.
"It was exhausting," Melvin said. "They were competing, boy. You get momentum going in the other direction here sometimes and it's hard to stem the tide."
Yoenis Cespedes hit an RBI triple in the first to extend his career-best hitting streak to 11 games, and Jed Lowrie added an RBI double as the A's (31-23) moved a season-best eight games above .500 for the first time since they were 12-4 on April 17. They won for the 11th time in 12 games.
"That's probably the most fun I've had in a long time outside of the playoffs. People are competing," said A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, who had two hits and a couple of defensive gems. "Good, clean fun. It was awesome."
Milone (5-5) outpitched Tim Lincecum and got plenty of support, too. He received three or fewer runs of support in each of his previous seven outings.
Hunter Pence hit a home run for the second successive game and Brett Pill also connected for San Francisco.
The sloppy reigning World Series champion Giants are having their problems -- starting pitching, defense, at the plate, you name it.
"I don't know what happened," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We just didn't play well. There's no sugarcoating this thing. We pretty much covered all facets of the game tonight as far as not playing well."
San Francisco has only two quality starts in the past 15 games and none on the road this month. The Giants are in a stretch with 14 of 18 away from AT&T Park.
"This is a tough stretch," Bochy said. "We've got to get our act together."
Lincecum (3-5) lost his third consecutive start and fourth in five. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner allowed six runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and four walks. He dropped to 5-3 in 10 career starts against the A's.
Pence hit a solo shot in the second to highlight his three-hit night, then Pill hit his first longball of the year leading off the sixth.
After Cespedes' first-inning triple, Oakland added another run when Cespedes scored on second baseman Marco Scutaro's error. Scutaro misplayed a popup in shallow right field in which he bumped into Pence, giving San Francisco's second baseman nine errors this year -- tied for most in the majors with Washington's Ryan Zimmerman.
Milone struck out three and walked three in five innings, allowing four runs and eight hits in his first career outing and start against the Giants.
Freiman delivered his first career hit as a pinch-hitter with the fifth-inning single.
A's bench coach Chip Hale was ejected in the bottom of the sixth, when the Giants added three runs. One of those came on Andres Torres' double that went over third base, which brought A's manager Bob Melvin out twice to argue. A fan interfered with the ball as it bounced near San Francisco's bullpen and was ejected, but baserunner Gregor Blanco was still allowed to score from first base.
"I argued everything that I could have argued," Melvin said. "He just said that in his judgment he would have scored [without the interference]."
Crew chief and third base umpire Gerry Davis told a pool reporter in that case there's a judgment call and "you award the runners the bases you feel they would have had had there not been interference."
A's center fielder Coco Crisp ran down a deep fly by Brandon Crawford to end the seventh, robbing him of an extra-base hit that would have driven in a run. Crisp hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth for insurance.
San Francisco lost its third in a row to the A's, dropping the Bay Bridge Series for the first time since going 2-4 in 2008. The clubs split their six games in 2010-11, then the Giants went 4-2 last season.
"Every time we come here the atmosphere is always awesome," Milone said.
Scutaro hit a two-out RBI double in the eighth and Pablo Sandoval followed with a run-scoring single to make it 7-6, snapping an 0-for-15 stretch. Sean Doolittle surrendered a run for the first time in 14 appearances.
The A's got one back in the ninth on the Giants' third error. Grant Balfour pitched the bottom half for his 12th save in as many chances and 30th consecutive dating to last year.
Giants center fielder and leadoff hitter Angel Pagan received a cortisone shot in his injured left hamstring to alleviate the bursitis that has sidelined him since Sunday. Bochy doesn't expect him to need a stint on the disabled list.
"He's probably down at least a couple more days," Bochy said. "Right now we think he should be ready in St. Louis."
A's RF Josh Reddick, on the DL since May 8 with a sprained right wrist, went 1 for 4 with two runs, a walk and a steal -- and a diving catch -- and is scheduled to DH for the River Cats on Thursday with the hope he will be activated by the A's ahead of Friday night's series opener at home against the White Sox. ... Milone is 5-2 with a 3.22 ERA in night games. ... Lincecum went 0-1 with a 6.30 ERA in two starts against the A's last year. ... RHP A.J. Griffin (5-3) pitches for the A's in the series finale Thursday afternoon against LHP Barry Zito (3-3). ... RHP Ramon Ramirez made his Giants season debut with two innings of relief after being promoted from Triple-A Fresno.