By Greg Dillard
On Wednesday night, the D-backs suffered a pair of disheartening losses. They not only fell to the Brewers in extra innings, but also lost shortstop Stephen Drew to a season-ending ankle injury. So, heading into Thursday’s series finale against Milwaukee, Arizona was in desperate need of some good news on the diamond.
The team turned to ace Ian Kennedy who took the mound against Brewers’ right-hander Zach Greinke. In what was a classic pitcher’s duel early on, Kennedy cruised through seven sharp innings en route to a much needed 4-0 win.
“It helps,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “You want to get back on track. Victory helps you move on from yesterday. It was a tough loss. We lost one of our keys players, and the guys bounced back and played well tonight.”
Kennedy tossed seven shutout frames against the Brewers, scattering four hits and striking out five. His stellar outing marked the third time this season that he’s unleashed seven scoreless innings and four hits or less. Thursday night’s outing also marked the 12th time in which Kennedy has pitched seven or more innings this season.
The right-hander earned his 11th win of the season, and it was the 10th time this season that the right-hander has surrendered one run or less. He also surpassed the 100-pitch mark for the 18th consecutive start, which is the longest active streak in the National League.
“Ian’s been good,” Gibson said. “He had to fight through 114 pitches. He’s got an extra day coming up so we knew we were going to let him go.”
The D-backs’ offense responded by crushing three home runs. Justin Upton struck first in the fourth inning with his solo shot to left-centerfield. Two batters later, Miguel Montero drilled an opposite field bomb off Greinke on a 0-1 pitch.
After hitting several long fly balls to left earlier in the game, Kelly Johnson finally drove a two-run homer over the fence in the bottom of the eighth, stepping in against LaTroy Hawkins to deposit a 1-0 offering into the left field bleachers.
“We needed to even this series out,” Kennedy said. “There’s a good team over there, and I knew Greinke was going to give us a tough game. A couple of guys hit home runs, and tonight that’s all we needed.”
One night after everything seemed to go wrong, the D-backs responded in grand fashion. But for Kennedy, it was hard to not have Drew in the clubhouse or with the team.
“It’s tough to not see him at his locker today, and he’s one of my good friends,” Kennedy said. “It’s tough to see that happen to not just one of your teammates, but one of your friends.”