In his attempt to become the NL’s first 16-game winner, Kennedy will need to overcome a rookie who is also riding a lengthy win streak.
The Philadelphia Phillies’ Vance Worley(notes) will try to claim his seventh straight victory Thursday night by rebounding from one of the worst outings of his career when he faces Kennedy and the visiting Diamondbacks.
With a 4-3 victory over the New York Mets on Friday, Kennedy (15-3, 3.12 ERA) became the third Diamondbacks pitcher to win seven consecutive starts in a single season. The right-hander allowed one run and six hits over seven innings while lowering his ERA to 2.44 during his streak.
Kennedy, experiencing a breakthrough year after going 9-10 with a 3.80 ERA during his first season in Arizona, now has a chance to become the first Arizona pitcher to win eight straight decisions since Brandon Webb(notes) from June 28-Aug. 21, 2008.
“I think our whole team is flying under the radar, and I don’t mind it at all,” Kennedy said.
With Kennedy playing a key role, Arizona (69-54) is 2 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco atop the NL West but had that lead trimmed Wednesday when their seven-game win streak was snapped. Wilson Valdez(notes) hit the tiebreaking double for the Phillies (79-42), who plated seven runs over the final two innings of a 9-2 victory.
Worley (8-1, 2.85) will try to deliver the Phillies’ 15th win in 18 games but will likely need a better performance than he produced in a 9-8 victory over Los Angeles on Aug. 10. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up six runs over four innings - five in the first - and did not get a decision
It was his worst outing since allowing career highs of eight runs and 12 hits over three innings to the Mets on May 29, his only loss of the season. Worley had been 4-0 with a 2.55 ERA in his last five starts prior to facing the Dodgers.
“I got tagged. I’m human,” he told the team’s official website.
Kennedy, meanwhile, is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in two career starts against Philadelphia including his only career shutout - a 3-hitter with 10 strikeouts April 25 at home.
Polanco had two of the hits off Kennedy in that matchup but is currently on the disabled list due to a sports hernia.
The Phillies also will be missing All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino(notes), who will begin serving a suspension for his role in a benches-clearing brawl at San Francisco on Aug. 5. He appealed the original suspension of three games, and it was announced Thursday that the ban was dropped to two.
A win Thursday would be Philadelphia’s 23rd of the season against the NL West - tying the club record for the most against that division since baseball’s 1994 realignment. The Phillies are 22-9 versus the West in 2011.