The Arizona Diamondbacks’ pitching has been superb during their winning streak, allowing four runs over the last five games.
Kennedy (16-4, 3.09 ERA), tied for the league lead in wins with Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw(notes), started the run - and stopped Arizona’s six-game slide - by throwing seven innings to beat Washington 2-0 on Tuesday, bouncing back from his first loss since July 3.
The right-hander is 8-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his last nine starts, including a 4-3 victory at San Diego on July 27. Kennedy allowed two runs in six innings in that outing, improving to 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA in five career starts against the Padres.
After the Diamondbacks’ division lead slipped to one game over San Francisco at the end of their skid, Kennedy hopes to add to his team’s three-game advantage.
He can also help Arizona win a ninth consecutive home game for the first time since winning 11 straight June 7-July 9, 2003.
“The fans have been great, there’s a lot of energy in the ball park,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “It feels good to win and that makes you feel even better.”
Kennedy has allowed three or fewer earned runs in 22 of his 27 outings, which may not bode well for the sputtering Padres offense.
After scoring 32 runs during its five-game winning streak Aug. 18-23, San Diego (60-73) has mustered only two in losing its last three. The Padres, 15th in the NL with a .240 average, are hitting .189 with as many strikeouts as hits (18) during their slump.
Chris Young stayed hot for the Diamondbacks by hitting a two-run homer in the fourth. He’s 5 for 13 with two homers and six RBIs over his last four games to break out of a lengthy slump, though he’s still hitting only .154 in 10 meetings with San Diego this season.
Arizona has won five of the last six matchups against the Padres and 15 of the last 19 meetings at Chase Field. The Diamondbacks last beat San Diego four straight times at home in 2008, a feat they’ll try to duplicate against Padres starter Cory Luebke(notes) (5-6, 2.91).
Luebke entered the rotation in late June and is 4-4 with a 2.71 ERA in 11 starts. The rookie has been especially sharp lately, going 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 24 innings over his last four outings.
The left-hander, who lost to Kennedy last month in his first start against the Diamondbacks, allowed one run and struck out eight in six innings last Sunday but didn’t earn a decision in San Diego’s 4-3 victory over Florida.
Both teams head into Sunday’s matchup with question marks on the injury front.
Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez(notes) was struck in the right ankle by a line drive Saturday, forcing him out of the game in the eighth inning. Though the injury is only thought to be a bruise, it’s unclear if he’ll be available to pitch.