There’s a certain satisfaction in coming back to beat a former employer.
Just ask San Diego Padres’ right-hander Ian Kennedy, who was instrumental in helping the Diamondbacks capture the 2011 National League West title.
Traded to the Padres at last year’s trading deadline, Kennedy earned his second career win over his ex-mates with a 7-4 win before 20, 852 Sunday afternoon in Chase Field. Through the win came against this former teammates, Kennedy said afterward he was happy with the victory and his association with the Arizona franchise is clearly in the rear-view mirror.
Kennedy’s victory prevented the Diamondbacks from sweeping San Diego and moved the Padres six games ahead of Arizona for third place in NL West.
Before the game, Kirk Gibson, the Diamondbacks’ manager told reporters he was out for the sweep and hoped Kennedy was in the way. As things evolved, Kennedy remained in control early but appeared to whither. In the sixth inning, the Diamondbacks reached their former teammate for a pair of runs and chased the Huntington Beach, Calif. native after 5.2 innings.
Still, Kennedy was able to beat his ex-team for the second time since the July 31 trade of a year ago.
“The former team stuff has faded away and I’m over that,” Kennedy said. “I’m in San Diego now and I love it. (Manager Bud Black) is awesome, a great pitching coach and really knows the game. I feel I’m getting better and better and I’m in a great place right now.”
In support of Kennedy’s 10th win of the season against 11 defeats, the Padres jumped on Arizona starter Chase Anderson for two runs in the opening inning. Though one was unearned, the pair, and after a three-spot in the fifth, stood up for Kennedy until left with a 5-2 lead in the sixth.
When Kennedy arrived in San Diego, the first thing Black did was to recognize Kennedy as a true fast-ball pitcher and worked to increase the velocity. With greater speed came a residual result.
“Bud had me throwing the ball from the top and I could see the increase in the velocity,” Kennedy added. “With greater velocity comes greater command and control. On (Sunday), I was a little frustrated with myself because of location.”
Plus, there is now a certain advantage in facing Arizona.
“That team is completely changed since I was there,” Kennedy said. “About the only player left is (catcher Miguel) Montero and I played a little with (shortstop) Didi Gregorius. Like I said, I got through the trade stuff a long time ago.”
Lack of command doomed Anderson from the start. For the game, Anderson walked four and tied a season-high previously established June 13 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Down 2-0 after the first inning, Anderson appeared to hang in but clearly walked the tightrope by the fifth.
Anderson started that inning by walking Kennedy and then issued a free pass to Yangervis Solarte, the Padres’ lead-off hitter. After Rymer Liriano grounded into a double play, Anderson then walked Seth Smith and gave up a three-run bomb to Yasamani Grandal.
End of Anderson’s afternoon and the Diamondbacks’ rookie left after five innings. The game also marked the second consecutive poor start for Anderson. Last time out against the Nationals on Aug. 19, he lasted only two innings and gave up six earned runs.
“(Anderson) gave up walks and home runs (Sunday) and in this ball park, you can’t do that,” said Gibson. “He was not hitting the corners (in the first inning) and seem to lose touch later in the game.”
Late in the game, the Diamondbacks had chances to tie and take the lead.
After scoring one in the sixth to close the San Diego lead at 5-3, Aaron Hill popped to second with a runner on second to end that frame. In the seventh, Jake Lamb grounded to second with runners on first and third and two outs. Through seven innings, the Diamondbacks left 10 runners on base and ended with that number stranded.
A pinch, two-run homer from Will Venable with one-out in the eighth off of D-backs’ reliever Matt Stites sealed this one and enabled Kennedy to gain his second win in his last three starts.
Beginning Tuesday night, the Dodgers move in for a two-game set.
In the series-opener, righty Trevor Cahill (3-8, 4.34 and five straight quality starts) takes on right-hander Roberto Hernandez (7-9, 3.78, combined with the Phillies and Dodgers).
A pair of Opening Day lefties highlight the Wednesday night game.
Wade Miley (7-9, 4.29) takes on Cy Young Award-favorite Clayton Kershaw (15-3, 1.82). To open the season, Kershaw defeated Miley, 3-1 on March 22 in Sydney, Australia.
Against Cahill, Andre Either is 9-for-29 (.310) while Adrian Gonzalez is 11-for-24 (.458 and two home runs).
For Wednesday, Aaron Hill is 6-for-18 (.333) lifetime against Kershaw. Miguel Montero is 7-for-32 (.219 with 11 strikeouts), Cliff Pennington is 1-for-9 (.111) and Mark Trumbo is 0-for-13.
Against Miley, A. J. Ellis is 4-for-16 (.250), Matt Kemp is 6-for-21 (.286), Yasiel Puig is 5-for-17 (.294) while Gonzalez is 4-for-20 (.250 and nine strikeouts). The toughest out for Miley has been Andy van Slyke, who is 9-for-18, a .500 average with four doubles and five home runs.