Gonzalez, D-Backs nip Giants, snap seven-game skid

PHOENIX (AP) -- Distracted by the Jason Grimsley fiasco, the Arizona Diamondbacks had lost seven straight games.

They hadn't led in 56 innings and had fallen out of first place in the NL West.

Arizona needed a lift. And Enrique Gonzalez, a rookie making his third big-league start, provided it. He allowed one hit over seven dominating innings as Arizona beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1 on Tuesday night.

"Slider, changeup, everything was good," the 23-year-old Venezuelan said. "I concentrated because we needed a win."

Now it's the Giants who need a lift despite getting Barry Bonds back for the first time in five games. He had been sidelined with an abdominal strain in his left side. Bonds went hitless in three at-bats as San Francisco dropped its fourth straight game.

Gonzalez outpitched San Francisco starter Jamey Wright (5-6), who allowed two runs in seven innings.

"I'm probably going to win more of those than I lose," Wright said. "Just give the other guy credit. He was nails out there. He got into a rhythm and we couldn't figure him out."

The Diamondbacks needed a strong outing from Gonzalez on the day they designated starting pitcher Russ Ortiz for assignment, effectively ending Ortiz's stay in the desert. The Diamondbacks
decided they would rather eat the remaining $22 million of Ortiz's contract than pitch him. They have 10 days to trade, waive or release Ortiz, who signed a $33 million, four-year contract in December 2004 and was 0-5 with a 7.54 ERA this season.

Ortiz's departure creates a hole in the rotation. But Arizona hopes Gonzalez will fill it. Gonzalez has spent his career with the Diamondbacks, who signed him as a 16-year-old out of Venezuela at the end of the franchise's 1998 debut season.

San Francisco seemed overmatched against Gonzalez, who consistently stayed ahead of hitters, throwing 55 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

Omar Vizquel's first-inning single was Giants' only hit off Gonzalez. Vizquel was erased on Ray Durham's double-play grounder.

After Vizquel's hit, Gonzalez (2-0) retired 18 men in a row before issuing back-to-back walks to Durham and Bonds with two out in the seventh. Gonzalez got Moises Alou to ground to third to end the threat.

"He kept the ball down, very aggressive, a presence on the mound," Giants manager Felipe Alou said.

Gonzalez walked two and struck out four.

"Enrique was the story," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "Velocity, command, confidence. He made big pitches when he had to."

After his first victory, over Atlanta and John Smoltz June 3, Gonzalez was demoted to Triple-A Tucson to make room on the roster for veteran reliever Terry Mulholland, who was coming off the disabled list.

Suffice it to say that Gonzalez is staying with the big club this time.

"After what we've been through here, to go out there and show the presence and confidence out there -- for a young guy like that, it certainly gets everybody's attention," Melvin said.

Gonzalez didn't need much support on this night, and the Diamondbacks didn't supply much.

The Diamondbacks jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning on Chad Tracy's 414-foot home run into the pool area in right-center field.

It was the Diamondbacks' first lead since they learned June 6 that federal agents had searched Grimsley's Scottsdale home in an investigation into performance-enhancing drugs. The team released Grimsley the next day.

Arizona took a 2-0 lead in the fifth when Shawn Green tripled to left field and scored on Johnny Estrada's sacrifice fly.

Although Gonzalez had dominated for seven innings, Melvin said he pulled him because he was approaching 100 pitches, which had been close to Gonzalez's maximum in the minors.

The bullpen made the Diamondbacks squirm a little. Reliever Luis Vizcaino gave up a solo home run to Eliezer Alfonzo with two out in the eighth.

Then Jorge Julio, who has replaced Jose Valverde as Arizona's closer, gave up a leadoff single to Randy Winn in the ninth. But Julio struck out Vizquel and got Durham to fly out to center field, bringing Bonds to the plate.

Melvin said he didn't consider walking Bonds.

"Now, I've seen people do it before," Melvin said. "That's the last guy in the world you want to see beat you. But we just felt like in this situation here right now, we didn't want to move
Winn up."

Bonds had singled in two career at-bats against Julio. Julio, who got his fourth save, threw Bonds a two-seam fastball, which he grounded to first base and the Diamondbacks exhaled.

"He hit a ground ball, and I said, 'Thank you,'" Julio said.

Game notes
Eric Byrnes, who came into the game 1-for-12 on the current homestand, doubled in his first at-bat. He was then picked off second. ... Green's triple ended a 3-for-27 slump on the current homestand. ... Travis Ishikawa started Tuesday night at first base in place of Lance Niekro, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a right groin strain. It was Ishikawa's seventh big-league game. ... Arizona shortstop Craig Counsell played in his 999th career game. ... The Giants' pitching staff leads the majors with a 3.32 ERA since May 9, a span of 32 games.