Late homer dooms D-backs as Padres finish series sweep

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Ian Kennedy did his best to not to let a potential 10-game suspension get the better of him.

The Diamondbacks right-hander threw six solid innings Sunday, allowing one run on four hits, walking one and striking out six. He also contributed two hits and drove in his team’s only run in the third inning.

But in the end, it was Kyle Blanks and Clayton Richard that carried the Padres to their sixth straight win and a three-game sweep of the D-backs.

Blanks hit a three-run home run off reliever David Hernandez (2-4) in the bottom of the eighth inning to snap a 1-1 tie and make a winner out of Richard (2-5), who pitched a season-high eight innings, allowing one run on seven hits.

“I felt good throwing the ball,” said Kennedy. “They are a tough team, they foul balls off and have long at-bats, no matter who they are. They are a good team over there. You have to give them credit for what they did the whole series.”

Huston Street came on in the ninth to pick up his 13th save in 14 opportunities for the Padres (35-34), who moved above .500 for the first time since closing the 2010 season with a 90-72 record.

San Diego has gone 30-19 since April 24th, is 21-7 in its last 28 home games and has pulled within two games of first-place Arizona in the NL West.

“We got outplayed in every aspects of the game,” said Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson. “I thought he (Kennedy) threw the ball great. His changeup to (Will) Venable (who homered) was a hanging breaking ball. That was not a good pitch. They didn’t miss them, and we did.”

Kennedy is appealing a 10-game suspension for his part in the team’s recent brawl with the Dodgers.

“It’s out of our hands. I don’t know when it’s going to happen. I know you guys have to write about it. But I just want to put it behind me and go out and pitch. It helps that it’s Father’s Day and I woke up and got pictures from my girls, wishing me ‘Happy Father’s Day’ and good luck.”

Richard walked none and struck out one in a strong start, improving to 7-1 in 10 career starts against the Diamondbacks. But the game wasn’t decided until Blanks, who had gone 0 for 3 against Kennedy, launched a hanging breaking ball from Hernandez into the left-field seats to make it 4-1.

“Any situation is big, but to produce late in the game makes it that much better,” said Blanks.

He has hit safely in 11 of his last 15 games, batting .321 during that span.

“There is no secret. I’ve been just trying to stay consistent really focusing on trying to get good swings and putting those good swings on good pitches, and typically good things happen when you do that.”

Just 10 days ago, Blanks was assigned to Triple-A Tucson but made a quick U-turn when injuries befell first baseman Yonder Alonso and outfielder Cameron Maybin.

“He’s got raw power — he’s a big man with legitimate power that plays in the big leagues,” said Padres manager Bud Black. “He’s taken this opportunity of regular play and really playing well, whether in the outfield or at first base. He’s responding. He’s making a statement.”

In the bottom of the third, the Padres’ Will Venable hit his ninth home run of the season, a 429-foot blast to right-center off Kennedy.

It stayed that way until the eighth. Everth Cabrera opened the inning with his third single of the game, and Chase Headley walked with two outs before Blanks hit a 1-2 pitch 379 feet into the left-field bleachers.

That gave Richard’s his first win as a starter this season. He had a relief win earlier in the season.

“Clayton threw the ball well — look at the results,” said Black. “I thought he had good command of his fastball, especially down in the strike zone. And he utilized his two-seam fastball with 89 to 90 velocity and got the good sliders and good sinking fastball.”

Padres OF Carlos Quentin remained out of the starting lineup with an ailing left shoulder. Manager Bud Black said that team orthopedic surgeon Heinz Hoenecke would evaluate Quentin during a game. … D-backs INF Aaron Hill (broken left hand) went 1 for 4 with an RBI on Saturday in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Reno. … Manager Kirk Gibson said INF Eric Chavez (strained oblique) is a few weeks away from returning. … RHP Brandon McCarthy will resume light throwing activities Monday. McCarthy has been on the disabled list since June 1 with right shoulder inflammation. Gibson said McCarthy’s shoulder “feels good.” … The D-backs head home to face the Marlins on Monday, with LHP Patrick Corbin (9-0, 2.28) facing RHP Jacob Turner (1-0, 1.80).