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Kazmir, Norris secure sweep for A's over Nationals at O.co today

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(OAKLAND) -- The "reunion" of sorts between players who have changed uniforms in Oakland and Washington over the past few years went all the Athletics' way this weekend at the O.co Coliseum, as the home team swept the visiting Nationals with a 9-1 victory today on Breast Cancer Awareness Day.

After former Nationals pitcher Tommy Milone shut down Washington on Friday night, giving up just two hits over eight innings, the trend continued today: former Nationals catcher Derek Norris had two home runs and six runs batted in for Oakland, all of that coming off former Oakland starter Gio Gonzalez in the first two innings.

And erstwhile Oakland bullpen cog Jerry Blevins, now pitching for the Nationals, surrendered two runs in an inning of relief himself this afternoon. Meanwhile, Oakland starter Scott Kazmir -- who has never pitched for Washington, incidentally -- threw seven shutout innings as the A's won their fourth game in a row to move to 23-15 on the season.

This game was over early, as Oakland scored seven runs off Gonzalez in the first two innings, most of that damage coming from two three-run shots by Norris. Nick Punto added the other three RBI for the A's, and in the ninth, the Nationals scored a run off Jim Johnson to spoil the shutout.

A crowd of 28,205 today helped raise $70,635 for the American Cancer Society, and since 1999, the Oakland organization's sponsorship of BCA days has contributed almost $1.4M for the cause. They were quite entertained on this beautiful, sunny Mother's Day as well.

The A's now lead the American League West by three games, and the team's +61 run differential is the best in the major leagues this year. Oakland next hosts the Chicago White Sox (19-20) for three games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before heading out on the road again for a nine-game swing through Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

But for now, let the A's and their fans revel in a sweep, the second one in Oakland this year. Overall, the team has four series sweeps this season, and their 13-6 road record still is the best in the AL this season.

Norris, the left-handed side of a catching platoon for the A's, is hitting .385 with four home runs and 19 RBI in 2014. His battery mate, the right-handed John Jaso, was the hero on Saturday night, driving in two runs on three hits -- including the game-winning knock in the tenth inning.

Between the two of them, Oakland's catchers are hitting a whopping .341 with five home runs and 22 RBI, and clearly, it may not matter which guy starts the game. And that's the way the A's like it: everyone in the lineup contributing on a regular basis, so no man has to carry the team each time out.

The A's have been missing Coco Crisp, for example, since he left the first game of the doubleheader last Wednesday after colliding with the wall on a catch in center field. The regular Oakland center fielder may not be back until Friday in Cleveland, but Craig Gentry has done a fine job filling in for him -- hitting .284 with six stolen bases this year overall.

That depth will help the A's later in the season, but it's doing them pretty well right now as it is.

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