ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Scott Kazmir is trying to keep his success in perspective.
The Tampa Bay Devil Rays' 22-year-old left-hander took a two-hitter into the eighth inning and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 Thursday, becoming the youngest pitcher to win nine games this early in the season since Tom Gordon and John Smoltz in 1989.
Kazmir (9-4) won 10 games as a rookie last year and has emerged as the leader of a young pitching staff.
"My goal was to come in here this season and work and continue to get better," Kazmir said.
So far, so good.
Only Detroit's Kenny Rogers and the New York Mets' Tom Glavine have more victories (10) among major league pitchers, and Kazmir's .568 career winning percentage (21-16) is the best in Devil Rays history for a pitcher with a minimum of 25 decisions.
"I felt like everything was right with my delivery. I felt like I could attack the strike zone," Kazmir said. "I felt like everything was in place and I was getting a good feel on every pitch."
Kazmir struck out eight and walked two in 7 2/3 innings, helping the last-place Devil Rays sweep a series for the third time this season and improve to 8-1 against NL opponents after going 3-15 in interleague play a year ago.
Arizona has lost 15 of 17 to fall below .500 (36-37) for the first time since it was 12-13 on April 30. The Diamondbacks were a season-high 12 games over (34-22) before beginning their current slide.
Arizona dropped to 0-6 against AL teams and remained the only club that has never beaten Tampa Bay.
The Diamondbacks have been outscored 120-51 during their skid.
"It's troubling for us to be offensively this bad for this long of a stretch," manager Bob Melvin said.
"Guys are just trying too hard," Melvin added. "We're having a difficult time relaxing up there."
Gonzalez, recalled from Triple-A Tucson before the game, has lost 10 consecutive decisions dating to 2004, when he was 0-9 in 10 starts. The 23-year-old right-hander hasn't won in the majors since beating San Francisco in relief on June 1, 2003.
By fanning eight, Kazmir joined Minnesota's Johan Santana as the only AL pitchers with 100 strikeouts this season. The left-hander retired 11 in a row after walking Jeff DaVanon with one out in the third.
The Diamondbacks were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, stranding Jackson at third base when Damion Easley struck out and Estrada grounded to shortstop to end the second inning. DaVanon stole second in the third, but Kazmir escaped when Craig Counsell flied to right and Eric Byrnes struck out.
The Devil Rays broke the game open in the sixth when Jorge Cantu singled for his third hit off Gonzalez and Huff followed with his fourth homer. Greg Norton doubled and scored on Wigginton's single, making it 4-0.
Gonzalez allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked none.
- The Devil Rays have two sweeps of NL opponents this season and are 6-0 all-time against the Diamondbacks.
- To make room on the roster for Gonzalez, Arizona optioned right-hander Casey Daigle to Tucson. Daigle had been recalled Wednesday when outfielder Scott Hairston was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder injury.
- Left-hander Jon Switzer, called up from Triple-A Durham on Tuesday, is the 21st pitcher the Devil Rays have used this season -- three shy of the club record set in 2000 and equaled in 2003 and 2004.