Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan must smile whenever they watch the A's these days, no doubt mindful that the formula they see working for the current A's is the one they mastered during the late 1980s as the A's manager and pitching coach, respectively.

That tried-and-true recipe was on full display again Wednesday, as the A's parlayed a solid outing from starting pitcher Tommy Milone, effective pitching from their relievers and several timely hits into a 9-6 victory over the Giants in front of a sold-out crowd at AT&Park.

That's the formula that carried the A's to the American League West title last season, and it's the one that propelled them to wins in six straight games and 11 of their past 12.

"That's probably the most fun I've had in a long time," A's third baseman Josh Donaldson said about a game that never quite seemed in hand until Grant Balfour nailed down the final out.

Tommy Milone made his 11th start of the season. As if on cue, he pitched well enough to give the A's a chance to win, just as he has in all his odd-numbered starts this season.

Milone has been nothing short of efficient and dependable in his six odd-numbered starts. He allowed five earned runs during his first five such starts. In his five others starts, he allowed 22 earned runs -- at least four in each game.

He said it was nice getting plenty of run support. It was just as nice playing in an intense setting.

"Every time we come here, the atmosphere is always awesome," Milone said. "As an athlete, in general, that's the kind of atmosphere that you want to play in front of every day."

Now, if Milone can just find a way to string together back-to-back impressive outings. The A's aren't complaining, though, not after beating the Giants for the third straight time.

The A's staked Milone to a 2-0 lead before he delivered his first pitch and enabled him to pitch with a lead until he departed after five-plus innings.

From the outset, Milone did what he does best by combining a high-80s fastball with an array of changeups and curves and pinpoint control.

Even so, the Giants still managed a few decent threats beyond Hunter Pence's solo home run in the second that cut the lead to 2-1.

Time and again, though, Milone and a host of relievers made just enough quality pitches to get outs when it mattered. Grant Balfour closed out the game for his 12th save in as many chances.

"You get the momentum going in the other direction here and sometimes it's tough to stem the tide," A's manager Bob Melvin said.