Johnson gives up six hits, Estes just two


PHOENIX (AP) -- Shawn Estes outpitched Randy Johnson. Not a bad start for a player who had to battle his way into the Colorado Rockies' rotation this year.

Estes allowed two hits in seven innings, Charles Johnson hit a two-run homer off The Big Unit as the Rockies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-2 Tuesday night, their first opening-day victory in
three years.

It was a big day for Luis Gonzalez, no matter which team he was
on. Arizona's Gonzalez hit a pair of solo home runs, and Colorado's
Gonzalez hit a two-run homer in his major league debut.

Todd Helton was 4-for-4 with a double and scored two runs as
Colorado snapped an eight-game losing streak against Randy Johnson.

After going 13-23 the past two seasons with three teams, Estes
had become a baseball castoff -- discounted much like the Rockies.

"No one is giving us a whole lot of credit. I mean, zero credit
up to this point," Estes said. "Sometimes they don't even mention
the Rockies as part of the NL West. Hopefully, after today they

Randy Johnson was encouraged despite the loss.

"Overall, I felt pretty good," he said. "I felt my velocity
was there. The command of most of my pitches was there, especially
my slider and my fastball. I made basically one mistake, and that
was the home run."

Johnson hit 97 mph on the radar gun, but he threw 114 pitches in
six innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He struck out six,
walked three and hit a batter.

"He was throwing great," Arizona manager Bob Brenly said.
"His stuff was good. That's all I can say. If he takes that same
stuff to the mound the rest of the year, we've got no problem."

Estes, who struck out three and walked two, retired 14 of the
first 16 batters he faced. The exceptions were Gonzalez's home run
with two outs in the first and a leadoff walk to Roberto Alomar in
the fourth. Alomar was quickly erased when Gonzalez hit into a
double play.

The only other hit off the Colorado lefty was Steve Finley's
two-out single in the sixth.

"He's been really, really good against us or really, really
bad," Brenly said of Estes. "Unfortunately, today he was really,
really good."

It was a meek start for what is supposed to be a much-improved
Arizona offense.

"We just couldn't get our offense going, but we're going to
score a lot of runs around here," Arizona's Gonzalez said. "We're
confident that we're going to do that. It just didn't happen

Estes often fell behind in the count, but he induced the
Diamondbacks into 12 groundouts.

The Rockies' starter said he took advantage of the Arizona's

"Nobody likes to walk. They like to drive the ball. I just
wasn't going to give in today," Estes said. "I knew I had a
moving fastball today. Even though I got behind in the count a few
time, I still had confidence that I was going to make the pitch,
and they beat it into the ground a lot."

Johnson, coming off a 6-8 season interrupted by surgery on his
right knee, pitched on opening day for the 12th time, and sixth in
a row.

The 40-year-old left-hander struck out Kit Pellow to start the
fourth, but hit Jeromy Burnitz with a pitch. Charles Johnson
followed by sending the first pitch into the left-field seats to
make it 2-1.

Colorado added a run in the fifth when Helton doubled, stole
third and scored on Preston Wilson's double.

The Rockies made it 5-1 when their Gonzalez hit a two-run homer
off reliever Jose Valverde in the ninth.

Brian Fuentes and Shawn Chacon pitched an inning each to finish
the combined three-hitter for Colorado.

Chacon, the Rockies' new closer, allowed Gonzalez's second home
run in the ninth.

Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the first when Gonzalez fouled off
three pitches, then lofted Estes' 2-2 pitch over the right field

Game notes
When Arizona was beaten by Los Angeles 8-0 last season, it
marked the first time Johnson had lost an opener. ... Retired
ex-Diamondbacks Matt Williams and Jay Bell threw out the ceremonial
first pitch. ... Arizona placed RHP Shane Reynolds on the 15-day DL
(right rotator cuff) and recalled RHP Andrew Good from Triple-A
Tucson. ... Even though it was 81 degrees outside, the roof at Bank
One Ballpark was closed because of the heat and glare on portions
of the stands. ... Estes is one of eight non-roster invitees to
make the Rockies' opening-day roster.