And to think, Derek Norris had a lousy batting practice.

"I felt like I had never stepped in a batter's box," he said. "My pregame routine went so terrible, I had to leave the cage."

Nothing that two home runs couldn't cure. Especially off the All-Star pitcher for whom he was traded.

"One of those unexplained things in baseball," Norris said. "Sometimes those days end up being career days because you're not trying to do too much, just trying to barrel up and put it in play."

Norris was some kind of terrible in the A's 9-1 victory over the Nationals on Sunday. He homered twice off Gio Gonzalez.

Not just that. Both were three-run shots. Both came on 3-0 counts. Both came with two outs. Both revived memories of the trade in December 2011 that sent Gonzalez and Robert Gilliam to the Nationals for prospects Tommy Milone, Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole and Norris.

"It's not like they didn't want me, but you still want to stick it to 'em," Norris said.

At the time of the trade, the A's were coming off an 88-loss season during which manager Bob Geren was fired and replaced by Bob Melvin. The A's traded two other All-Star pitchers in five-player deals: Trevor Cahill to Arizona for Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook, and Andrew Bailey to Boston for Josh Reddick.

Management looked to save money and restock the system, anticipating a possible new ballpark in three years.

So much for the ballpark.

The restocking thing worked, though.

With Melvin and all the young players acquired in the trades, the A's won consecutive division titles.

"They needed a starting pitcher," Norris said of the Nationals. "They sent me to an organization that scuffled for a couple of years and had a veteran guy (catcher Kurt Suzuki) whose salary might've gotten too high, and they were looking for someone a little younger to come in and fill the shoes.

"It was a good place for me to break into the big leagues. You always envision playing for the ballclub that drafted you. I just got a great opportunity when I got traded here."

Norris homered in the first and second innings and had another 3-0 count leading off the fifth. This time, Gonzalez wised up and walked him. The lefty was gone after 4 1/3 innings, having surrendered seven runs on nine hits and three walks.