Arizona’s Kennedy silences Brewers for 11th win
Kennedy (11-3) gave up four hits, struck out five and walked two in his third straight win and the Diamondbacks got home runs from Justin Upton, Miguel Montero and Kelly Johnson to beat the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 on Thursday night and split the four-game series.
The victory came one night after a 5-2, 10-inning loss, a game the Diamondbacks blew after having Upton on third with no outs in the ninth and failing to score. That game was made far worse because shortstop Stephen Drew broke his right ankle sliding into home plate. Drew, out for the season, underwent surgery on Thursday to have a plate inserted and to repair torn ligaments.
“Obviously you’re down when you lose one of the best players on your team,” Upton said, “but we had to turn the page today.”
Kennedy felt the absence of the player who has been Arizona’s starting shortstop since the middle of the 2006 season.
“It’s kind of tough not seeing him in his locker today,” Kennedy said. “He’s one of my good friends. It’s tough to see that happen to not just one of your teammates but one of your friends.”
Kennedy joined an elite group of eight pitchers in the National League with at least 11 wins. Atlanta’s Jair Jurrjens leads the league with 12.
“That’s nice. That just shows a good bullpen, a good team around us,” Kennedy said. “And as a starting pitcher, you win ball games.”
After scoring 16 runs in two games, the Brewers’ fearsome offense fell silent. Not that they didn’t have their chances Thursday night. They were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
“You get disappointed when you think you are playing pretty good and you come out and get shut out,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke said. “I am glad we won some games on the trip but when you think about this game, it’s hard to be happy about what happened the last few days.”
The Brewers split the four-game series and wrap up their 11-game trip with three at San Francisco over the weekend. The Diamondbacks send Daniel Hudson in search of his 11th win Friday night against Colorado.
Prince Fielder, the All-Star game MVP on the same field nine days earlier, went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. Still booed heartily by the Arizona fans who won’t forgive him for leaving Upton off the Home Run Derby team, Fielder was 1 for 16 in the series.
“He has been good so long that when he has two or three off games, a little of you is like ‘What is wrong with Prince?’” Roenicke said. “This is what every single hitter goes through.”
Zach Greinke (7-4) struck out seven with no walks in seven innings, allowing only five hits, but two of them were solo shots by Upton and Montero in the fourth inning.
Johnson added a two-run homer off LaTroy Hawkins in the eighth, his team-high 17th of the season.
Bryan Shaw and Ian Patterson pitched the eighth for Arizona, then David Hernandez completed the shutout in the ninth.
Upton’s 16th home run, on a 3-0 count, landed in the walkway far above the 413-foot sign in left-center. With two outs, Montero’s opposite-field shot made it to the fence in left, his 11th homer, to put Arizona up 2-0.
“The two home run pitches, 3-0 to Upton I just threw one over the middle and hoped it would be an out, single or even a double,” Greinke said. “He hit it well. Three-0 home runs are like, whatever. The other one it was a horrible pitch to Montero. With Upton you are playing with fire on a 3-0 pitch and Montero, I was a lot more upset about that one. I just did not execute the pitch.”
The Brewers fell into a virtual first-place tie with idle Pittsburgh in the NL Central. The Diamondbacks picked up a half-game on idle San Francisco and trail the first-place Giants by four games in the NL West.
Kennedy escaped a jam in the fifth when Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Lucroy singled with two outs. Greinke’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third. Corey Hart walked to load the bases, but Nyjer Morgan flied out to center to end the threat.
“That was the only time tonight where I felt like I didn’t have command of a couple of pitches,” Kennedy said, “but I also wasn’t going to give them anything to barrel. I wasn’t going to throw a cookie in there.”
Other than that, it was smooth sailing for Arizona’s 26-year-old right-hander, who improved to 33-32 since coming to Arizona in a three-team trade in December 2009. Kennedy threw 114 pitches. He has topped 100 in all but one of his 21 starts this season.
Shaw relieved Kennedy and immediately got in trouble. Hart led off with a single, then Morgan was hit by a pitch. But Ryan Braun, who had doubled to lead off the sixth, grounded into a double play. Patterson, a lefty, came on to fan Fielder on three pitches.
Notes: The Diamondbacks called up former major league SS Cody Ransom from Triple-A Reno to help fill the void left by the season-ending injury to Drew. ... The Brewers selected the contract of OF Brett Carroll from Triple-A Nashville to take the roster spot of OF Carlos Gomez, who is on the DL after breaking his left collarbone Wednesday night. ... Kennedy is 4-1 in his last six starts.