The Diamondbacks say they plan to go after some quality pitching help in the offseason, but they've also told Edgar Gonzalez that if he finishes out the year strong, he may have a chance to crack the five-man rotation in 2007.
There are no guarantees, of course, and it could just be management's way of trying to squeeze every last drop of potential out of the right-hander.
But in his first start in two weeks, Gonzalez delivered the best performance of his career when he needed it most in an 8-2 Arizona victory Wednesday at Petco Park.
He allowed one run -- a solo homer to Josh Bard in the second inning -- and held the Padres to six hits during a seven-inning effort that saw him issue no walks and strike out three batters. Gonzalez collected his first win as a starter since 2003.
That first victory happened to be in Gonzalez's major league debut, also in San Diego but at Qualcomm Stadium. He had made 16 other career starts since, but never collected another win until Wednesday.
The drought included a stretch in which he was 0-9 for the Diamondbacks in 2004, the season when Arizona lost 111 games.
Part of Gonzalez's plight, however, can be directly linked to a lack of run support. The Diamondbacks have averaged less than two runs per game in the 15 starts he has made that he didn't win. Of those, Arizona had been shut out four times and had scored more than three runs for him only once.
In his last four starts prior to Wednesday, they had managed a total of just four runs while he was still in the game.
Manager Bob Melvin thinks Gonzalez (2-3 with a 4.41 ERA this season) is a different pitcher this season and, if he plays his cards right, could play himself into the mix next season.
"You definitely see a different look in his eye," Melvin said. "He's a much more confident guy out there. He's not afraid to pitch in, not afraid to double up in there. This year he's been a different guy, whether it's in relief or whether it's starting."
Gonzalez is out of minor league options and is likely to have two more starts this season to help his cause.
"I just need to focus on that and throw well the next couple starts," he said.
REPLAY: Arizona collected 18 hits -- its most in a nine-inning game since also having 18 in a June 3 game at Atlanta -- in beating the Padres 8-2 on Wednesday at Petco Park.
The Diamondbacks, who had lost six of their previous eight games against San Diego, scored five times in the seventh inning to break the game open. Rookie shortstop Alberto Callaspo had the big hit, a three-run triple, his first major league three-bagger.
Luis Gonzalez, Conor Jackson, Johnny Estrada and Callaspo each picked up three hits.
--INF Alberto Callaspo and RHP Micah Owings were selected the organization's minor league Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively. Callaspo, 23, who presently is with the big-league club, hit .337 with 92 runs, 24 doubles, 12 triples and 68 RBIs for Triple-A Tucson. Owings, 23, was 10-0 with a 3.70 ERA for Tucson after going 6-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 12 starts for Double-A Tennessee.
--SS Stephen Drew (sore left groin) is expected to start Thursday's series finale against the Padres at Petco Park. He missed his fourth consecutive start Wednesday but flied out as a pinch hitter.
--C Johnny Estrada, who could be on the trading block this offseason if the Diamondbacks believe rookie Miguel Montero is ready to play every day in the majors, raised his batting average to .306 with three hits Wednesday against the Padres.
--LF Luis Gonzalez hit his 52nd double of the season Wednesday, becoming the 10th player in the past 10 years to hit at least that many in one year. Colorado's Todd Helton has done it twice.
--Manager Bob Melvin on what it's like to manage a game when Cy Young Award candidate Brandon Webb (16-6) starts: "It's fun to watch, it's fun to manage and it's fun to play behind. All the above. The difficult thing right now is, we want him to do well and get his numbers and do everything we can to facilitate him accomplishing what we want him to accomplish, without overtaxing him or putting him in a position where he can take a loss. The bottom line is, every game he's gone out there this year, if you're a baseball fan, you enjoy watching him pitch."
BY THE NUMBERS: 2,361 -- Career hits by Luis Gonzalez, through Sept. 15.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "The direction this team is going in is good, but it's not going to be good tomorrow or overnight. It's going to take a while for these young players to develop. But they want to bring them up. I'm not going to bash those guys, though, because they've given me a great opportunity. I want to move on, too." -- LF Luis Gonzalez, on the state of the Diamondbacks.
1B Tony Clark was scheduled to have season-ending surgery Sept. 20 to repair damage to the labrum in his right shoulder. Recovery time has been put at about three to four months.
SS Stephen Drew left the Sept. 16 game with tightness in his left groin, and he didn't play Sept. 17-18. He appeared as a pinch hitter Sept. 19-20, and he hopes to start Sept. 21.
OF Jeff DaVanon, who went on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 6 with a left ankle sprain, had season-ending surgery on Sept. 6.
Stephen Drew, Miguel Montero, Chris Young, Edgar and Enrique Gonzalez, Tony Pena, Doug Slaten...all…