Ian Kennedy has carried his regular-season success from last year over to the beginning of 2012.
Though Kennedy (2-0, 2.84 ERA) went 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA in two starts against Milwaukee in the 2011 NL division series, he’s 8-0 with a 1.91 ERA in nine regular-season starts since losing at Philadelphia on Aug. 18.
Fourth in the NL Cy Young award voting after going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA last season, Kennedy allowed one run and struck out nine over six innings of a 3-1 win at San Diego on Thursday.
“I’m just going to throw one pitch at a time and try to get this next guy really just the next pitch and then next pitch after that,” Kennedy told the Diamondbacks’ official website.
He allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings of a 5-4 season-opening victory over San Francisco on April 6, winning his club-record ninth consecutive home start. Kennedy is 9-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 12 outings at Chase Field since losing to Florida there May 31.
That stretch includes a 1-0 win over Pittsburgh on Sept 19, when he allowed one hit and struck out 12 over eight innings to become the NL’s first 20-game winner.
Scheduled Pittsburgh starter Jeff Karstens also opposed Kennedy in that contest, giving up only a Justin Upton home run and four other hits in six innings. That homer is the only run Karstens has yielded over 22 innings while going 1-1 in three starts versus Arizona (7-3).
In his first start at Chase Field, the right-hander tossed a two-hitter in a 2-0 victory Aug. 6, 2008.
Karstens (0-1, 3.27) surrendered three runs - all in the opening frame - and seven hits over five innings of a 3-2 loss at Los Angeles on Thursday.
“If you don’t like coming out early, then don’t give up runs early,” Karstens said. “It’s just something I’m going through right now, so we’ll address it and see where it takes us and what we need to do to fix it.”
Karstens will try to help the Pirates (3-7) bounce back from a 5-1 loss to the Diamondbacks in Monday’s series opener. Losers in six of seven since taking two of three from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh has been held to two runs or fewer seven times in 2012.
“I think we have too much offensive talent to continue this for too long,” said third baseman Casey McGehee, batting .308 in 2012.
Neil Walker drove in the lone run for the Pirates, who have dropped 15 of their last 20 games in Arizona and haven’t won a series there since 2005. Walker is 5 for 11 with three RBIs in his last three games overall.
Diamondbacks center fielder Chris Young continued his hot start with three hits Monday including a two-run homer as Arizona won for the 25th time in 29 regular-season home games. The Diamondbacks have scored 22 runs while going 4-0 at Chase Field in 2012.
Young is batting .405 (15 of 37) with five homers and 13 RBIs this season.
“I just try to keep on a routine, not get too high, not get too low,” said Young, who has hit .395 (15 of 38) with four home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 10 games versus Pittsburgh.