The visiting Padres are further back in the hunt for the second wild-card spot in the NL, but they may have a good chance to make up some ground starting Tuesday night considering their recent performances against Arizona.
San Diego (71-76) trails St. Louis by six games for the second berth while Arizona (72-74) is 4 1/2 behind the Cardinals. With a handful of teams in front of them, it is going to be difficult for the Padres or Diamondbacks to jump into playoff position, especially for the club that loses this series.
"You look (at the scoreboard), but just looking isn't going to help," outfielder Jason Kubel told the Diamondbacks' official website. "You have to worry about what's going on with you before you scoreboard watch and worry about what other people are doing. First thing is winning games."
San Diego has been doing that over the past month, going 19-6 in its last 25 games. The Padres are 5-1 against the Diamondbacks over that stretch and have won eight of nine meetings - including six straight in Arizona - after losing four of the first six.
The Padres took two of three at home over Colorado this past weekend, blowing a six-run lead late Sunday before winning 12-11 on Yonder Alonso 's RBI single in the ninth inning.
Alonso went 4 for 5 with two RBIs and is batting .429 (9 for 21) while driving in eight runs in his past six games. He's hitting .259 with 10 RBIs in 14 games against Arizona this season, including 4 for 9 with a homer off scheduled starter Ian Kennedy (13-11, 4.21 ERA).
"We feel good about ourselves and where we are headed," Alonso said.
The Diamondbacks have struggled to a 6-7 mark this month, avoiding a three-game sweep at home Sunday with a 10-2 rout of NL West-leading San Francisco.
Justin Upton continued his recent strong play with a solo homer and two-run double. He's batting .333 with three home runs and seven RBIs over his last seven games, with two of the homers coming over the weekend.
"Just trying to get some good pitches to hit, be a little more patient, see the ball over the middle of the plate and put a good swing on it," Upton said. "I've tried to stay positive all year and keep going. Stringing together a couple of good days is nice."
Upton has had success in his career against Padres starter Eric Stults (6-2, 2.54), going 3 for 7 with a homer. Stults, though, comes into this matchup pitching well.
The left-hander is 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA over his last four starts, winning 5-0 in Arizona on Aug. 24 behind seven innings of three-hit ball. He allowed six runs - three earned - and three homers over 6 1-3 innings of a 6-0 home loss to the Diamondbacks on June 3.
Kennedy enters having sandwiched a pair of good starts around a poor one. The right-hander pitched 6 1-3 shutout innings to win at Los Angeles on Aug. 30, allowed five runs over seven while not receiving a decision in a victory in San Francisco on Sept. 4, and beat the Dodgers again last Tuesday with another 7 1-3 scoreless innings.
He's 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against San Diego this season.
|San Diego Padres|
|September 11, 2012||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 23, 2012||Jason Marquis||15-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
|August 17, 2012||Nick Hundley||Day-to-Day||Bruised right knee|
|August 16, 2012||Nick Hundley||60-Day DL||Bruised right knee|
|August 11, 2012||Huston Street||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
|July 31, 2012||Yasmani Grandal||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|September 11, 2012||J.J. Putz||Day-to-Day||Stiff back|
|August 30, 2012||Chris Johnson||Day-to-Day||Flu|
|August 21, 2012||Justin Upton||Day-to-Day||Left game - Tight hamstring|
|August 17, 2012||Jason Kubel||Day-to-Day||Neck stiffness|
|August 14, 2012||Takashi Saito||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|August 14, 2012||Takashi Saito||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
PHOENIX (AP) -- A 30-pitch first inning did not doom Ian Kennedy 's start against San Diego.
Far from it.
The Arizona right-hander found his rhythm, carried it through eight innings and the Diamondbacks finally got a home victory over the Padres, 3-2 on Tuesday night.
"When that happens, you've got to be really efficient as the game goes on and try to go as deep as possible," Kennedy said of the high early pitch count. "I was really happy that Gibby (manager Kirk Gibson ) allowed me to go into the eighth. He asked me how I felt and I said I felt pretty good, so he said all right."
Kennedy (14-11) scattered seven hits, striking out six and walking two, one intentionally. A 21-game winner in 2011, he is 8-3 in his last 12 starts.
"He's aggressive now. You see his velocity up. In the last inning he was throwing 90-91 (mph)," said catcher Miguel Montero , who drove in two runs with two doubles. "And his command, his command on his secondary stuff, he's been able to throw it for a strike. That's big. It's not like they're just sitting on fastball because he can't locate a breaking ball. Right now he can throw every pitch for a strike."
San Diego, which lost for just the third time in 12 games, was 6-0 in Arizona this season before dropping the series opener. The Diamondbacks stayed 4 1/2 games out in the wild-card race with just 15 to play.
Eric Stults (6-3) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings in his first loss since June 3. The left-hander had gone 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in seven starts since rejoining the Padres rotation on Aug. 6.
"Stultsy did fine," San Diego manager Bud Black said, "a little bit of an elevated pitch count, which is something he hasn't done. He has been very efficient and throwing the ball well. He gave up three runs and I am sure he wishes he had a couple of pitches back, some breaking balls that stayed up in the zone. He threw well enough to keep us in the game. Their guy just outpitched, bottom line. `'
The Padres got a run in the ninth inning after Chris Denorfia singled and reached third when the ball got past Adam Eaton in center field for a two-base error. Will Venable 's sacrifice fly brought Denorfia home but J.J. Putz retired Jesus Guzman and pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay to earn his 30th save in 35 opportunities.
Kennedy, pitching on an extra day's rest, struck out seven, two in his final inning. He walked two, one intentionally. His 121 pitches were one shy of his season high.
Stults struck out six, walked three and hit a batter. The last time he faced the Diamondbacks, at Arizona on Aug. 29, Stults blanked the Diamondbacks on three hits over seven innings.
"They had a little different approach," he said. "They were sitting off-speed tonight, especially early in the count. The first two times I faced them I was able to get ahead early (because) they were more a little more aggressive early in the count."
Arizona center fielder Chris Young , in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 3, aggravated his right quadriceps injury running down a fly ball for the first out of the game.
"Extremely frustrating," Young said. "I've been practicing every day and you put in a lot of work to get back to right. Game speed's just a little different, so as soon as I had to turn it up, it grabbed on me, and it's time to start from scratch again, it seems like."
When he left the game, Eaton shifted from left to center, and Gerardo Parra came in to play left.
After the substitution, Logan Forsythe singled and Chase Headley walked, then Yasmani Grandal singled off the glove of Kennedy to load the bases. Yonder Alonso hit a sacrifice fly to left. Parra's throw reached home ahead of the runner, but Forsythe slid under the tag of the catcher Montero, who did not block the plate.
The Diamondbacks responded with two runs in the bottom of the first. Eaton led off with a walk, stole second, and, with two outs, scored on Paul Goldschmidt 's single. Goldschmidt scored from first when Montero doubled to right.
Arizona added a run in the fifth when Justin Upton drew a one-out walk and raced home from first on Montero's double high off the wall in center.
The Diamondbacks had runners at first and third with one out in the seventh, but Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera fielded Goldschmidt's grounder, spun around as he touched second, then fired to first for the inning-ending double play.
Eaton has reached safely in 10 of his first 11 major league games. Parra is the only Arizona player to reach safely in his first 11 big league contests.
Notes: In their two three-game sweeps in Arizona, the Padres outscored the Diamondbacks 42-20. ... Arizona's top minor league club, the Reno Aces, won the Triple-A championship 10-3 over Pawtucket on Tuesday night. Two other D-backs minor league teams, Double-A Mobile and Rookie League Missoula, won their league titles. ... In Game 2 of the series on Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks go with RHP Trevor Cahill (11-11, 3.92 ERA) against the Padres' RHP Edinson Volquez (10-10, 4.24). ... Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic will throw out the first pitch at Wednesday night's game.