Arizona manager Kirk Gibson suggested Ian Kennedy had used a different approach in beating the Los Angeles Dodgers. Actually, it wasn’t even that complicated.
Kennedy pitched two-hit ball into the seventh inning and Chris Young hit a two-run homer off Clayton Kershaw to help the Diamondbacks win 2-0 Thursday night and snap a six-game skid.
”The difference is when you execute it makes it look like your game plan is a lot better,” Kennedy said. ”On good games, Miggy (catcher Miguel Montero) and I are on the right game plan.”
The Diamondbacks extended their winning streak over the Dodgers to seven in a row and improved to 5-1 at Dodger Stadium this season with their eighth shutout win in the opener of a four-game series.
”Let’s make it eight,” Gibson said. ”We know they’re a very good team. Let’s hope we get on a very good run here.”
Los Angeles lost for the seventh time in 10 games on a night when slugger Matt Kemp was out of the starting lineup with a stiff left shoulder. The Dodgers were shut out for the 12th time this season and fell 4 1/2 games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West. They stayed 1 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second wild-card spot.
”It’s a loss that we really can’t afford,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who called a postgame team meeting. ”There’s guys in that clubhouse I trust are going to get the job done. I continue to believe in these guys.”
Kennedy (12-11) struck out seven and walked two over 6 1-3 innings, bouncing back from a loss against San Diego in his previous outing. His last six starts against the Dodgers have been decided by three runs or less.
”He was very good attacking the zone. He mixed it up a little better,” Gibson said. ”He managed his pitch count really well and got us deeper in the game.”
J.J. Putz gave up consecutive singles to Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez to start the ninth before retiring the next three batters for his 27th save in 30 chances. Juan Rivera popped out with runners at the corners to end it.
”I left a couple of pitches up,” Putz said. ”From there we had to battle and I made some pitches when I needed to. Ian dug deep and gave us everything he had. It was a good game. One of those you can hopefully feed off of.”
Kershaw (12-8) gave up two runs and a season-high nine hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked three but lost for the second time in three starts. It was the most hits the left-hander had given up since allowing nine on July 2, 2011, at the Angels.
”It’s definitely a game where we needed to do a better job of getting him some runs,” Gonzalez said. ”But Kennedy was spotting his fastball early in the count and getting ahead, then executing his pitches later in the count.”
Montero led off the fourth with a double – the first of four consecutive hits allowed by Kershaw. Young sent a 2-2 pitch just inside the left-field foul pole for his 14th homer.
”I knew it was over the fence. I just didn’t know if it was fair or foul,” said Young, who was so busy checking he didn’t initially touch first base before going back. ”This is a big road trip for us. It will give us a pretty good idea of where we’re standing. I think we’re strong enough to stay positive and put our best foot forward. We’re very capable of making the playoffs.”
Kershaw then gave up a single to Gerardo Parra and was called for a balk when he threw to first base. John McDonald followed with a single before the Dodgers got their first out and then ended the inning with a double play.
Until the ninth, the biggest cheers from the sellout crowd of 54,621 were reserved for Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who had his first bobblehead night four days after announcing he would return to the booth for a record 64th season in 2013.
NOTES: Kemp’s stiff shoulder was an after-effect of running into the fence at full speed on Tuesday in Denver. … Dodgers RHP Chad Billingsley had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his injured right elbow, with Mattingly hopeful it will reveal whether Billingsley can pitch again this season. … Diamondbacks 3B Chris Johnson was out of the lineup with the flu. … The Dodgers reinstated RHP Matt Guerrier from the 60-day disabled list, optioned RHP Josh Wall to Triple-A Albuquerque and transferred SS Dee Gordon to the 60-day DL. Gordon is eligible to be reinstated on Sept. 3. Guerrier is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in seven games, but hasn’t appeared in a game since April 18. He made five rehab appearances at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, posting a 3.00 ERA with five strikeouts and no walks. Wall had made two relief appearances since he was recalled from Albuquerque on Monday, allowing three runs in 1 1-3 innings. … Instead of Scully throwing out the first pitch as announced, 15 of his 16 grandchildren – ranging in age from 5 to 22 and wearing Dodgers jerseys with his name on the back – stood along the third-base line. He handed the ball to them and they passed it along until giving it back to Scully, who flipped it to Mattingly. Scully’s 16-year-old granddaughter, Mackenzie Luderer, sang the national anthem and ”God Bless America.”