With Johnson to miss his scheduled start, the Arizona Diamondbacks (26-23) will send Gonzalez to the mound as they continue a four-game series with the struggling Astros on Friday night.
Tendinitis in Johnson’s forearm will keep him from taking his turn in the rotation. Arizona manager Bob Melvin said there is no plan for the five-time Cy Young Award winner to go on the disabled list, but he is going with Gonzalez (1-2, 4.81 ERA) so the veteran can take some time to heal.
While the 43-year-old Johnson is 4-0 with a 2.50 ERA in five starts against the Astros (21-26), Gonzalez has lost each of his two career starts against them, posting a 12.46 ERA.
Gonzalez, though, hasn’t faced Houston since July 2004.
The right-hander is returning to the rotation after three relief appearances. He hasn’t pitched since last Friday when he gave up one hit while striking out two in one scoreless inning of relief as Arizona lost 11-5 to Pittsburgh.
Gonzalez is 1-2 with a 4.45 ERA in five starts this season.
The Diamondbacks matched a season high in runs with a 9-1 win over the Astros in the series opener Thursday night, sending Houston to its fifth straight loss.
Arizona had lost two straight, managing just one run in that stretch. The Diamondbacks scored four runs in the first inning.
“It’s good to see,” Diamondbacks left fielder Eric Byrnes said. “It’s the type of team that we are. It’s the type of production that we need from everybody.”
Arizona scored more than three runs for just the fifth time in 11 games Thursday, and pulled within two games of Los Angeles in the tightly packed NL West.
Center fielder and leadoff man Chris Young went 1-for-2 with a run in his return to the lineup after missing time with a groin injury. He was removed after three innings, though, and his status for this game is uncertain. Young is tied for second on the team with six home runs and 10 doubles and if he misses any time, will likely be replaced by Scott Hairston—a .214 hitter with two homers and eight RBIs.
Houston has lost five straight, scoring just five runs in that span, and has also lost five straight road games.
“We’re not striking the ball well,” Astros manager Phil Garner said. “We’re not hitting it well in bunches, so we’re having trouble scoring runs.”
Woody Williams (1-6, 5.52 ERA), 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in his last two starts, will start for Houston. The right-hander gave up five runs and eight hits in four innings as the Astros lost 14-1 to Texas on Sunday.
Williams is 8-7 with a 3.27 ERA in 21 starts against Arizona.
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