(Photo by Jordan Megenhardt/Arizona Diamondbacks)
By Greg Dillard
The 21,000-plus fans at Chase Field rose to their feet and applauded their starting pitcher.
Ian Kennedy walked off the mound to a standing ovation after yet another stellar pitching performance on Thursday night. The right-hander headed into Thursday night’s series opener against the Padres with a standout 18-4 record and a 2.96 ERA.
Kennedy kicked off the four-game homestand by stifling the San Diego offense through 7.2 innings in which he scattered seven hits, allowed just one run and struck out 11 to earn his 19th win of the season.
“He’s got pinpoint control,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “He has various pitches that he goes to. He really limits his mistakes. He had a really good changeup tonight.”
It was the eighth time in his career in which Kennedy threw at least seven shutout innings. He held the Padres scoreless until San Diego drilled a trio of singles to jump on the scoreboard in the eighth inning.
“Fastball command, later on my changeup was good,” Kennedy said. “Fastball command early on, just trying to get ahead of guys. That’s what I noticed … I wasn’t falling behind.”
Kennedy also established a new season-high, single-game strikeout total with 11 K’s. His previous season-high was 10 strikeouts, which he last accomplished during his April 25 start vs. the Phillies earlier this season.
Thursday’s outing also marked the 19th time Kennedy has thrown seven or more innings. In those starts, he’s 14-0 with a sharp 1.88 ERA.
“I just want to stay consistent, stay healthy,” Kennedy said. “If I can put up 200 innings, that was going to be a goal of mine. Staying healthy is a part of this game, and I just try to make my starts every time I go out there.”
Kennedy is now 5-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his seven career starts against the Padres. His 19 wins this season are the most by a D-backs pitcher since former right-hander Brandon Webb won 22 games in 2008.
“I keep saying good bullpen and timely hitting,” Kennedy said. “It’s the truth. It’s what happened tonight. Luckily, I just pass it over to our bullpen. I mean you saw it last year how it could get out of hand sometimes, and it’s the difference between getting a no decision and a win.”
Offensively, the D-backs banged out six hits and four runs to seal their 83rd win of the season. Rookie first baseman Paul Goldschmidt smacked his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth for Arizona’s first run of the game.
Right fielder Justin Upton tacked on another run with his 29th long ball of the season in the bottom of the sixth. The D-backs struck for two more runs in the seventh thanks to a throwing error from Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson and an RBI single off the bat of Miguel Montero.
Closer J.J. Putz came on in the ninth and locked down his 38th save of the season to preserve the win.
For tickets to World Championship Reunion Weekend, CLICK HERE.