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Nats try to salvage finale with A's behind Gonzalez

(SportsNetwork.com) - Gio Gonzalez faces his former Oakland club for the first time on Sunday afternoon when his Washington Nationals wrap a three-game set with the Athletics.

The left-hander spent his first four Major League seasons with Oakland, going 38-32 with a 3.93 earned run average in 95 games. He won 31 of those games over his final two seasons with the club before getting dealt to Washington on Dec. 23, 2011.

Gonzalez, a 21-game winner in 2012, has gone without a victory in three straight starts, following up two no-decisions with a 1-0 loss at Philadelphia on Sunday. He yielded the lone run of the game on a single in the first inning and ended up logging 7 1/3 frames.

Gonzalez struck out seven and dismissed the lack of run support after the game.

"There will be nights where these guys will give me seven or eight runs. It's just baseball," noted the 28-year-old Gonzalez, who is 3-2 with a 2.91 ERA on the season.

Taking the mound for the A's will be Scott Kazmir and the lefty will be looking to rebound from his first loss of 2014.

Kazmir won four straight decisions to begin the campaign before taking a 4-2 loss to Seattle on Monday. He yielded a season-high four runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings, falling to 4-1 with a 2.64 ERA.

"Probably wasn't his best stuff as we've seen this year," A's manager Bob Melvin said of Kazmir. "You're going to have days like that. He still kept us in the game."

The 30-year-old faced the Nationals for the first time in his career last season and it was a forgettable outing. Pitching with the Cleveland Indians, he was drilled for five runs, four hits and four walks over 2 2/3 innings of a no-decision.

Kazmir yielded solo homers to Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond in the outing.

Oakland is in line for the sweep after rallying to take Saturday night's meeting 4-3 in 10 innings.

Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson had consecutive run-scoring hits in the ninth inning off Washington closer Rafael Soriano to tie the game and John Jaso drove in the winning run an inning later with a walk-off double with two outs that plated a pinch-running Nick Punto.

Jaso's hit was just Oakland's seventh of the game, but gave the club its third straight win.

"Sometimes certain guys come up key in games when you don't get many hits," Melvin said of Jaso.

The Nationals got all three of their runs in the third, with Danny Espinosa driving a one-out homer to right center to open the scoring. Kevin Frandsen later came through with a two-run double in the frame, but the Nats eventually lost for the fifth time in seven games.

"Going into the ninth with a two-run lead and a guy that hasn't given up a run in 25 innings and it doesn't happen for you, it's disappointing," Nationals manager Matt Williams said.

The Nats got more bad news after the game as first baseman Adam LaRoche appears headed to the disabled list because of a strained right quad that forced him out of Friday's lineup.

LaRoche is hitting .319 with five homers and 21 RBI this season and will join fellow sluggers Zimmerman and Bryce Harper on the sidelines in another blow to the offense.

These teams had not met since Washington swept a three-game set at home in 2005. Oakland swept a three-game series when it hosted the Nationals in 2003.

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