SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Ian Kennedy even shaved his beard during the All-Star break to try to change things up, ridding himself of facial hair for the first time in more than two years — since his daughter was born in late April 2011, to be exact.
Yet Kennedy is still searching for answers and making adjustments after losing his third straight start, outpitched by Chad Gaudin in the first-place Diamondbacks’ 2-0 loss to the Giants on Friday night.
Kennedy (3-7) was denied career victory No. 50 in his eighth try as his winless stretch reached eight starts; his last win came against the Cubs on June 1 in Chicago.
“You just try to be positive. Like, ‘Just get that out of the way,'” Kennedy said. “Just keep going out there, grind away, find adjustments to do. That’s what I really tried to do.”
The right-hander said he had a professional barber give him the beard shave Monday, but the Diamondbacks still lost their sixth straight second-half opener, stumbling against Gaudin and five relievers.
“We had no offense going on at all tonight. They just shut us down,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
Gaudin, who might just be pitching himself right into a permanent spot in the Giants’ starting rotation, struck out eight in seven scoreless innings.
“It’s huge,” Gaudin said. “Any win in our division is huge.”
All-Star Buster Posey hit an RBI double and Hunter Pence added a run-scoring single as San Francisco started the key series by pulling within 5 1/2 games of Arizona in the NL West race.
Kennedy settled in after he gave up two runs in the first, but that was all the Giants needed on a quiet day for the D-backs’ hitters. Kennedy allowed two runs on five hits, struck out three and walked three in six innings.
“He came out trying to establish his fastball, and they came out very aggressive,” Gibson said. “They got some hits on him and got two runs out of it. He made some pitches and got out of it after that. He got his arm up and was hitting his spots and just started throwing all of his pitches.”
Kennedy had been 3-1 with his eight previous starts at AT&T Park, and he was riding a five-game winning streak against the Giants over his previous 10 starts in the rivalry.
“I wasn’t throwing extremely hard — my stuff wasn’t as great — but I got through what I needed to do and handed it over to the bullpen,” he said. “You try to knock that rust off early. I know last year we went through that. We wanted to come out and have more energy.”
Gaudin was at his best yet. He is unbeaten in seven starts since joining the rotation in early June to replace the injured Ryan Vogelsong, and he is making for a tough decision by the Giants’ brass when Vogelsong is ready to return next month.
In his past four starts, Gaudin (4-1) has a 0.77 ERA, having allowed just two earned runs in 23 1/3 innings. He has an 11-inning scoreless streak.
Not bad for a guy who signed a minor league deal with the Giants and had no guarantee of making the team out of spring training. Gaudin’s only loss this year came in relief during an extra-inning loss at home on April 24 against the Diamondbacks.
Gaudin allowed three hits and didn’t walk a batter for the second time in his seven starts.
“Everything he does for us, it’s a big lift,” closer Sergio Romo said.
Romo, the Giants’ fifth reliever, finished the five-hitter for his 22nd save and San Francisco’s 10th shutout. Arizona was blanked for just the second time; the first was a 3-0 loss to Atlanta on June 28. Romo has a 29-game scoreless streak against the D-backs spanning 21 2/3 innings and dating to Sept. 6, 2010.
Gaudin got some defensive help from Giants rookie Kensuke Tanaka. The
converted infielder made a sliding catch near the foul line in left
field, reaching back over his head after overrunning the play to rob
Paul Goldschmidt leading off the fourth. Gaudin tipped his cap to the
Santiago Casilla escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, the D-backs’ only real scoring opportunity, when Goldschmidt hit a sharp grounder to short to end the frame.
NOTES: D-backs RHP Brandon McCarthy is scheduled to pitch a rehab start Sunday for Triple-A Reno and likely one more after that before being re-evaluated. He collapsed at a Phoenix restaurant last month with a seizure related to the head injury he sustained while pitching last September. … Giants CF Angel Pagan has begun baseball activities and agility work in Arizona as he tries to work back before season’s end from left hamstring surgery. … Giants Hall of Fame broadcaster Lon Simmons celebrated his 90th birthday and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 41,924. “It always has surprised me,” Simmons said of the support.