A night later, the brawny young basher had a completely difference countenance, practically scowling as he purposefully trotted around the bases.
Making his first start back in the majors, Allen hit a three-run homer to provide Ian Kennedy(notes) all the support he needed and lift the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday night.
“It was a pretty tough at-bat last night to come up as a pinch hitter with the game on the line,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “This was a different situation and he was the difference today. It was more than welcome. We’re not swinging the bats very well at all.”
A September call-up the previous two years, Allen opened the season at Triple-A Reno after being one of the last cuts in spring training. After a productive stint in the minors, he was called up after the All-Star break with the hope of giving the Diamondbacks some much-needed hitting help.
Allen couldn’t come through in his first at-bat back, striking out as a pinch hitter with two on and two out in the ninth inning of Friday’s 6-4 loss to the Dodgers.
It was one of just five hits for Arizona, but Kennedy (10-3) didn’t need any more help than that, overcoming some late control problems to become Arizona’s first 10-game winner. Fill-in closer David Hernandez(notes) finished it off, working a perfect ninth for his eighth save.
“It felt good,” Allen said. “Last night is over and you’ve got to put it behind you and tomorrow’s new a day, so you’ve just got to go in there feeling confident.”
In the midst of a difficult season on and off the field, the Dodgers had managed a glimmer of hope over the past week, winning four games heading into the All-Star break, followed by the victory over the Diamondbacks in the series opener.
Los Angeles has relied heavily on its pitching during the streak, allowing one earned run in 45 innings, including three straight shutouts.
The Dodgers got more good pitching from Kuroda, who was solid except for the one pitch to Allen.
They just couldn’t muster much offense, a common theme this season.
All-Star Matt Kemp(notes) homered for the second straight game to further erase memories of a forgetful Home Run Derby, a solo shot in second for his 24th of the season. The rest of the lineup didn’t do much, combining for four other hits and letting Kennedy off the hook in a shaky fifth inning to see their season-high five-game winning streak come to an end.
“We couldn’t get them in when we had a chance,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
Arizona had gone into a bit of a slide after climbing back into contention in the NL West.
The Diamondbacks led the division for eight days after a massive May and were still right behind the Giants in early July. Arizona stumbled heading into the All-Star break, though, losing three of five, and dropped 4 1/2 games behind San Francisco after Friday’s loss to the Dodgers.
Kennedy was just the man to get them turned around.
He and Daniel Hudson(notes) have been Arizona’s most consistent pitchers, both winning nine games before the break. Kennedy allowed three runs in six innings to beat the Cardinals his last start and was sharp again.
Kennedy was fine after that, leaving after giving up two runs and on five hits with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
“It was a good performance by him because he really didn’t have his offspeed stuff at all,” Gibson said. “But he was pumping his fastball over and locating it well.”
Kuroda held his own after All-Star Clayton Kershaw’s(notes) win in the opener— except for that one pitch. It came in the second inning, when Allen lifted his three-run homer to deep right to put Arizona up 3-1.
The Diamondbacks didn’t muster much else off Kuroda, who retired the final nine batters he faced and allowed three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts in six innings.
“I wish I could take that pitch back,” Kuroda said of the pitch to Allen through an interpreter. “I could have walked that guy, but it was early in the game and I wanted to attack the zone.”
NOTES: Tom Willis, who was born without arms or hands, threw out the first pitch with his foot. He’s been throwing first pitches around the majors to raise awareness for his Pitch for Awareness campaign on disabilities. … Kennedy has walked in a run three times this season, but allowed just one hit in 14 at-bats against him with the bases loaded. … Los Angeles has not allowed a run in the first inning since June 29 against Minnesota and has given up the fewest in the majors at 23 on the season.