D-backs turn to Kennedy in hopes of avoiding sweep

June 16, 2013

Ian Kennedy is scheduled to take the mound Sunday after appealing a 10-game suspension for his role in a bench-clearing brawl earlier this week. He could be in for a battle against the surging Padres.

The visiting Diamondbacks will look to avoid a three-game sweep against the Padres, who will be trying to gain even more ground on the NL West leaders.

While eight suspensions and 12 fines were handed out by Major League Baseball as a result of the Diamondbacks' brawl with the Dodgers on Tuesday, Kennedy (3-4, 5.49 ERA) received the stiffest punishment after "intentionally throwing a pitch in the head area of Zack Greinke."

The right-hander's suspension is the longest handed out for on-field conduct since Cubs catcher Michael Barrett's 10-game punishment for punching White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski in May 2006.

"You look at the history and my history and the history of things happening with first offenses in the past, and that's why I'm going to go through the appealing process," Kennedy told MLB's official website. "I think 10 games is -- I think they're trying to set an example.

"I feel there's a lot of things being attacked at my character and saying I'm a headhunter. I really don't appreciate that."

Kennedy, who threw 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball before being ejected Tuesday, now turns his attention to the Padres (34-34). After taking Friday's series opener 2-1, San Diego extended its winning streak to a season-high five and reached .500 for the first time in more than two years with Saturday's 6-4 victory.

Yasmani Grandal hit a three-run homer and Kyle Blanks went deep for the fourth time in 11 games for the Padres, who hadn't been at .500 since they were 4-4 on April 10, 2011.

"It looks good on paper," manager Bud Black said of the team evening its record. "I think it sends a great message to our guys, it really does. They fought off some hard times in April to where we are now. So I'm very proud of them to get to .500. It's great. I think it proves that we can continue to play solid baseball."

The Padres, hitting .379 with runners in scoring position during their winning streak, have climbed to within three games of the Diamondbacks (37-31). Loser in five of seven, Arizona hasn't dropped three straight since May 11-13 and hasn't been swept at Petco Park since July 16-18, 2010.

The Diamondbacks will try to get back on track against Clayton Richard (1-5, 8.06), who's trying to avoid becoming the first Padres pitcher to lose his first six decisions of a season as a starter since Stan Spencer went 0-7 in 1999.

The left-hander's only win came while throwing two scoreless innings of relief May 31 in a 4-3, 17-inning victory over the Blue Jays. He's since been tagged for a combined 10 runs over two starts spanning 10 1/3 innings.

Richard had gone 6-0 with a 4.06 ERA over his first eight starts against the D-backs prior to surrendering seven runs in 3 2/3 innings during an 8-1 loss May 4. Paul Goldschmidt and Cody Ross are a combined 10 for 19 with four doubles against him.

Kennedy had won six consecutive starts in the series before going 1-2 with a 5.54 ERA in his last four. He allowed five runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss at Petco on May 5.

He'll need to be careful against Chase Headley, who's 5 for 12 with a homer and three extra-base hits against him since last season. Kennedy, though, has had his way with Everth Cabrera (3 for 17) and Blanks (1 for 11).