Summoned from Triple-A Sacramento, Nate Freiman caught a red-eye flight to Miami and slept half an hour before landing at 6:30 a.m. for his season debut Sunday for the Oakland Athletics.
Despite too much coffee and not enough sleep, Freiman hit a three-run homer to help the A’s beat the Marlins 4-3 and complete a three-game series sweep. He rejected his travel itinerary as a long-term recipe for success.
“I’ll probably have to not make it a habit of sleeping half an hour,” he said. “There was too much adrenaline going. I was wired. But once I get on the plane tonight, I think I’m going to be out cold.”
The Athletics trailed 1-0 in the sixth inning before breaking out against rookie Andrew Heaney with four consecutive hits, including Freiman’s home run. Freiman, who spent all of last season with the A’s, was recalled when right fielder Josh Reddick returned to the disabled list because of a right knee strain.
“Nate had a full year in the big leagues last year and knows what it is all about,” manager Bob Melvin said. “He is not intimidated by it. He gets called up, and on Day 1 has the biggest hit of the game. He knows how to play.”
Tommy Milone (6-3) allowed two earned runs in seven innings to win his sixth consecutive decision, a career best. Closer Sean Doolittle was given the day off after appearing in three consecutive games, and Ryan Cook pitched the final 1 1-3 innings for his first save.
The A’s, playing in Miami for the first time since 2003, came from behind in all three games. They won their fourth in a row, improved to 7-1 in interleague play and reached the halfway point of 2014 a season-high 21 games above .500 (51-30).
“We’ve been playing tremendous baseball,” Milone said. “That’s obviously what we expect for ourselves. The goal now is just to keep it up.”
The highly touted Heaney (0-3), making his third career start since being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans, allowed four runs in six innings to raise his ERA to 5.29.
“This is a learning experience,” the left-hander said. “I feel like every time out I’ve gotten better. Hopefully, I can have one where there are a lot more positives and I’ll be celebrating a win.”
The Marlins will have an off day Monday to lick their wounds after playing 17 consecutive days and going 5-12.
Marcell Ozuna had a pinch-hit drive for his 14th homer, but the Marlins totaled only six hits and hit into three double plays. They had the best home record in the majors earlier this month, but have lost five in a row at Marlins Park.
“We just played a great team,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We were in every single game and could have won all three. We just weren’t good enough this weekend.”
Heaney was working on a shutout with two out in the sixth when the AL West leaders made their move. Consecutive singles by Alberto Callaspo, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Donaldson scored one run, and the 6-foot-8 Freiman pulled a pitch into the nightclub beyond the left-field fence.
Freiman changed his stance this season and hit 14 homers in 76 games with Sacramento.
“We’ve been noticing what he has been doing in Triple-A,” Milone said. “It’s no secret he has got pop. We saw it today.”
NOTES: The game was halted for 10 minutes in the seventh inning while medical personnel treated two fans struck in the face by the same foul ball. One of them was taken to a hospital for treatment. … Before the game, the Marlins recalled LHP Dan Jennings from Triple-A. … Milone became the first A’s pitcher to bat in consecutive games since Ken Holtzman in 1972. Milone flied out as a pinch hitter Saturday. … A’s C Derek Norris (back) was unavailable for the second game in a row. … The Athletics open a series at Detroit on Monday when LHP Scott Kazmir (9-3, 2.66 ERA) pitches against Tigers RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-2, 2.64 ERA). … RHP Henderson Alvarez (5-3, 2.32 ERA) is scheduled to start when the Marlins open a series at home Tuesday against Philadelphia.
Updated June 29, 2014