Adrian Gonzalez breaks through in Dodgers' victory

PHOENIX -- Adrian Gonzalez knew the hits were bound to come.

Friday night, they did.

Gonzalez drove in five runs in the Dodgers' 6-0 victory over the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks, including two on a home run in the first inning.

With three hits, Gonzalez raised his average from .189 to .244.

“I heard people talk about my average, but I knew it wasn’t something to focus on because it wasn’t relative to how I was swinging the bat,” Gonzalez said. “I knew if I stayed positive and stayed with it, eventually it was going to turn around.”

The Dodgers’ offense looked as if it was starting to come together when it scored six runs in seven innings against Diamondbacks starter Brandon McCarthy.

Hanley Ramirez was three for four with two doubles and three runs scored. Yasiel Puig returned from a sprained thumb to start his first game in six days. 

Of how he and Ramirez combined for six hits and six runs batted in, Gonzalez said, “That’s what we’re there for.”

Manager Don Mattingly downplayed Gonzalez’s low batting average when he was asked about it before the game. He similarly defended Matt Kemp, who is hitting .167.

Gonzalez offered similar thoughts.

“You don’t panic, ever,” he said. “When you’ve been around and you’ve had success, you know what it takes and you know what you need to do. The most important thing is your routine, your preparation.”

Gonzalez hit the first pitch delivered his way by McCarthy, sending it over the right-field wall to open the scoring.

Recalling the scouting reports that described McCarthy as a strike thrower, Gonzalez said, “I was ready to go from the first pitch. I wasn’t going to give him an easy strike to start the game. He was trying to go away and left it middle-in.”

The home run was Gonzalez’s third. Gonzalez hit his third home run last season on May 1. He finished the season with 22.

Gonzalez could conceivably have hit five or more home runs already. The Dodgers opened the domestic portion of their season at spacious Petro Park in San Diego and Gonzalez hit at least two balls in that series that probably would have been home runs in most other stadiums.

“I’ve got a finish that I like, that I can stay consistent with,” Gonzalez said. “Really, it’s the basis of my swing. If I have a good finish, I have a good swing, so it’s really what I focus on.”

Gonzalez doubled the Dodgers’ lead to 4-0 with a two-run single in the third inning. He drove in his final run with another single in the eighth.

From Gonzalez’s perspective, the hits made up for balls that didn’t fall for him in the last week.

“I wasn’t in a perfect position to hit them,” he said. “It’s a little bit of getting lucky there.”

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