But Gonzalez's lead and his tenuous place in history didn't last long, though, as Robinson Cano of the Yankees hit a Derby-record 12 home runs in the final round to take the Home Run Derby title, 12-11.
Cano finished the event with 32 home runs, while Gonzalez finished with 31.
"Cano did an unbelievable job, he deserved to win. ... He hit a lot more further than me," Gonzalez said. "He could have probably hit another 10."
Gonzalez, after hitting nine home runs in the first round, put on a monster power display at Chase Field, hitting 11 home runs in the semifinals to bash his way into the championship round.
Cano advanced to the championship round of the Home Run Derby with eight home runs in the first round and 12 more in the second round.
If all of those swings in the first two rounds took a physical toll on Gonzalez, it didn't show in the championship round.
"You get to that 15-swing range and your focus goes out the door," Gonzalez said. "You really don't have an approach. ... I was just really antsy and went after pitches right away."
Gonzalez's Red Sox teammate, David Ortiz, was eliminated after the second round after hitting four home runs, giving him nine for the Derby. Prince Fielder of the Brewers had eight home runs.
Ortiz, the American League captain, was tied with Matt Holliday of the Cardinals and Fielder after the first round with five home runs. There was then a three-way tiebreaker, with Ortiz and Fielder advancing.
A year ago in Anaheim, Ortiz won the Home Run Derby with a total of 32 home runs.
The previous record for home runs in the championship round was 11 by Ortiz a year ago and by Detroit's Bobby Abreu in 2005. Gonzalez then tied it Monday before Cano broke it.
On Monday, though, Ortiz sounded like a proud manager for picking a team that hit a combined 76 home runs to 14 for the National League hitters. The other member of the AL team was Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, who hit four home runs.
"I made the right choice," Ortiz said, smiling. "It was an unbelievable show by Cano and my teammate, Gonzo. It was enjoyable. The most important thing was to put on a show for the fans."
Ortiz, Gonzalez and Cano were quick to downplay the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in the final round, though Ortiz said he was pulling for each player in the finals, mostly because of his relationship with Cano.
"Robby is like a little brother to me," Ortiz said. "It's good for him, good for the game and his family to watch him."
This was the first year of the AL vs. NL format in the Home Run Derby.
Each player got 10 outs per round with the top four hitters -- Gonzalez, Cano, Fielder and Ortiz -- advancing to the second round.
Ortiz entered Monday's Derby with 68 career home runs in four trips, second only to Ken Griffey Jr., who hit 74 home runs in eight appearances.
Gonzalez hit two home runs in his lone Derby appearance in 2009 in St. Louis while still a member of the Padres.
Gonzalez entered the Home Run Derby with some history at Chase Field, having played there five seasons with the Padres, who, of course, compete in the NL West with the D-backs.
In fact, Gonzalez has hit 13 home runs in 169 career at-bats at Chase Field. That marks the second-most he's hit in any ballpark other than his former home venue, PETCO Park in San Diego.
Gonzalez has 14 career home runs at Coors Field in Denver.