Athletics 9-1 over Nationals for sweep in O.co: Derek Norris hits two 3-run HRs on 3-0 pitches

Thearon W. Henderson

Oakland A's catcher Derek Norris hit two 3-0 pitches out of the field of play in the O.co Coliseum for two three-run home runs in what ended up a 9-1 Athletics' win. The Washington Nationals were swept in the three-game set in Oakland. Now on to AZ...

Gio Gonzalez Homecoming Day in Oaktown Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Gio Gonzalez needed six pitches to record the first two outs of this afternoon's series finale with the Oakland A's, but a two-out walk started a series of events which led to the Washington Nationals trailing 4-0 after one. Yoenis Cespedes singled in the at bat after Gonzalez put Josh Donaldson on, and Derek Norris got ahead 3-0 on the Nats' lefty before launching the center-cut fastball Gonzalez threw him, sending a three-run blast out to the left field seats in the O.co Coliseum to give the home team a 3-0 lead early. Back-to-back-to-back singles followed with Nick Punto driving in another run with the third straight hit after the home run to make it 4-0 A's after one.

Norris came up again with two runners on in the second and went ahead 3-0 again before crushing another 3-0 fastball from Gonzalez for another 3-run home run and a 7-0 A's lead after two in O.co.

Gio Gonzalez was out after 4 1/3 IP.

Scott Kazmir shut the Nationals' hitters down, throwing seven scoreless in which he allowed just four hits.

Jerry Blevins walked the first batter he faced in the A's seventh, then gave up back-to-back doubles by Brandon Moss and Nick Punto that gave Oakland a 9-0 lead.

Anthony Rendon singled and scored in the top of the ninth when Zach Walters drove him in. 9-1 Oakland.

A's win, 9-1 final.

4. Gi.o in O.co: Gio Gonzalez, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo said after the December 2011 trade with the Oakland A's that landed the left-hander, possessed, "... all the prerequisites that we had to have for a deal of this magnitude."

Washington sent right-handers Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole, left-hander Tommy Milone and top catching prospect Derek Norris to the Athletics to get Gonzalez, a southpaw Rizzo saw as being a few tweaks away from becoming a dominant starter.

"A young power-throwing left-hander," Rizzo said. "He's got plus, plus stuff. Being a left-hander was really a key to this. We feel that he matches up very nicely between our two power right-handers [Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann]."

"We really like his peripheral numbers," Rizzo continued. "He's won a lot of games on a mediocre club. Sixteen wins on the Oakland A's last year was quite a feat. He has the propensity to strike players out. He's got swing and miss stuff and we see his walks turning in the right direction. We see him having general command and we think as he progresses into his career, each and every year he's going to improve on his command."

Gonzalez's command improved in his first year in the nation's capital. He finished the year (21-8) with a 2.89 ERA, a 2.82 FIP, 76 walks (3.43 BB/9, down for the fourth straight season from 5.11 in '09, 4.13 in '10 and 4.05 BB/9 in '11) and a career-high 207 Ks (9.35 K/9) in 199 1/3 IP over which he was worth a career-best +5.1 fWAR.

The lefty's second season in D.C. wasn't as impressive, but the team as a whole faltered in their defense of the first NL East division title since baseball returned to the nation's capital in 2005.

Gonzalez finished his second campaign in a Nationals uniform with an (11-8) record, a 3.36 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 76 walks (3.50 BB/9) and 192 Ks (8.83 K/9) in 32 starts and 195 2/3 IP over which he was worth +3.1 fWAR.

Through seven starts this season, the now-28-year-old lefty is (3-2) with a 2.91 ERA, 2.71 FIP, 15 walks (3.12 BB/9) and 45 Ks (9.35 K/9) in 43 1/3 IP.

He returned to Oakland for the first time since the trade this year, and took the mound in the O.co Coliseum looking to help the Nationals avoid a sweep at the hands of his old team. In the A's home in his career, Gonzalez was (21-14) in 46 games, 45 of them starts, in which he walked 135 (4.45 BB/9) and struck out 252 (8.31 K/9) in 273 IP, while holding opposing hitters to a combined .232/.324/.358 line.

In his first career start vs the A's today, Gonzalez got hit hard and was out by the time the fifth was over...

1st: Gio Gonzalez got off the mound quickly and fielded a bunt attempt by Craig Gentry, tossing to first baseman Tyler Moore in time for the first out of the A's first. A pop to right by Jed Lowrie on a 3-1 fastball got Gonzalez two quick outs, but he walked Josh Donaldson when he missed inside with a 3-1 heater. Yoenis Cespedes grounded weakly enough to short that he was able to reach first safely ahead of Ian Desmond's throw across the diamond. Former Nats' prospect Derek Norris stepped in with two on and two out, went ahead 3-0 and crushed the center-cut 3-0 fastball Gonzalez threw him, sending a three-run blast into the left field seats in O.co. 3-0 A's. Alberto Callaspo and Brandon Moss followed with back-to-back, two-out singles and Callaspo scored when Nick Punto connected for the fifth straight two-out hit. 4-0 A's. By the time Gonzalez struck Josh Reddick to end the inning, he was up to 33 pitches overall.

2nd: Craig Gentry singled to left on a 92 mph 2-1 fastball for the sixth hit of the game off Gio Gonzalez, stole second with Jed Lowrie at the plate and took third when Lowrie flew out to the right field corner. Josh Donaldson grounded weakly to third for out no.2. Yoenis Cespedes went ahead 3-0 in his two-out at bat, and popped up on the fastball he got from Gonzalez, but Jose Lobaton missed the catch. The ball was foul, however, and Cespedes ended up walking. Derek Norris stepped in with runners on the corners and went up 3-0 again and hit a 3-run home run again. 7-0 A's. Alberto Callaspo's sharp grounder to third ended a 22-pitch second. 55 pitches total after two.

3rd: Brandon Moss grounded weakly to first to start the third. Nick Punto grounded weakly to short. Josh Reddick K'd swinging to end a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 third. 64 pitches total for Gonzalez.

4th: Craig Gentry K'd swinging to start the A's fourth, but Jed Lowrie doubled to right with one down, taking a first-pitch change into the corner. Josh Donaldson started down 0-2 and worked the count full before grounding out to third on a 3-2 bender. Yoenis Cespedes K'd swinging at a 3-0 fastball up high in the zone to end the inning after 14 pitches by Gio Gonzalez, who was up to 78 overall.

5th: Derek Norris led off the fifth for the A's, going to a 3-0 count again and walking on a fastball in the dirt. Alberto Callaspo popped out to Tyler Moore for the first out of the inning. Brandon Moss singled up the middle, past both Gio Gonzalez and Ian Desmond's outstretched gloves. That was it for Gio...

Gio Gonzalez's Line: 4.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HR, 88 P, 48 S, 6/2 GO/FO.

3. vs LHP: Tommy Milone shut the Nationals out over eight innings in Friday night's series opener. Sean Doolittle threw two scoreless innings in last night's A's win. The Nats, however, still entered the Sunday finale of their three-game set with the Athletics with an impressive .289/.347/.458 line against left-handed pitchers so far in 2014, good for second in the NL across the board in AVG/OBP/SLG, behind only the Colorado Rockies (.317/.363/.514), who led the league in each category through a month-plus of the season.

Scott Kazmir, the A's starter in the third game of three with the Nationals, entered today's game (4-1) so far this season with a 2.64 ERA, 2.83 FIP, nine walks (1.83 BB/9) and 38 Ks (7.71 K/9) in seven starts and 44 1/3 IP for Oakland after signing a 2-year/$22M free agent deal with the Athletics this past December.

The 30-year-old, 10-year veteran faced the Nationals just once in his career before today's outing, getting knocked around for four hits and five earned runs in 2 2/3 IP for Cleveland last June.

This afternoon in the O.co Coliseum, Kazmir was given a 7-0 lead early and after he set the Nationals down in order to complete his fifth scoreless, he'd set 11 straight Nats' hitters down after Scott Hairston's one-out single in the second. An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth gave Kazmir 14 straight outs.

Jayson Werth singled with one down in the seventh, breaking Kazmir's streak of retired batters at 15, and Ian Desmond singled to right in the next at bat for the Nats' fourth hit of the game. Kazmir got a double play grounder to get out of the inning and complete his seventh scoreless inning.

Scott Kazmir's Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 88 P, 59 S, 9/6 GO/FO

2. Mini-Slump: Nats' 3B Anthony Rendon ended the month of April with a .316/.352/.544 line, but that was down to .286/.321/.497 eight games into the month of May after the 23-year-old, 2011 1st Round pick went 1 for 4 in last night's loss, leaving him 1 for 8 in the series and 6 for 33 so far in the second month of the season.

Rendon grounded out in his first at bat this afternoon.

The second time up against A's lefty Scott Kazmir, Rendon flew out to center on a first-pitch fastball.

Rendon's groundout to second in his third at bat left him 1 for 11 in the series.

In his final at bat of the game and series, Rendon singled by first, 2 for 12.

1. The Wrap-Up: Craig Stammen took over on the mound for Gio Gonzalez in the fifth, inheriting two runners and stranding them both. Still 7-0 A's. Derek Norris stepped to the plate in the A's sixth with two runners on again in his third trip to the plate but lined out to left to end the sixth. Still 7-0 A's.

Jerry Blevins took the mound in the bottom of the seventh, returning to Oakland for the first time since he was traded to Washington last winter. The Nats' lefty walked Alberto Callaspo and gave up a double to center by Brandon Moss. Both runners scored when Nick Punto lined a double to left over a leaping Anthony Rendon to make it 9-0 A's.

Aaron Barrett threw a scoreless eighth.

Jim Johnson closed it out for the A's, but only after giving up a run on an RBI single by Zach Walters...

9-1 A's final.

Nationals now 19-18

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