After playing a significant role in Arizona's NL West championship run a year ago, Ian Kennedy will try to help the Diamondbacks achieve a more modest goal this season.
The right-hander will try to deliver a winning season for his team while earning a fifth consecutive victory Wednesday against the Colorado Rockies.
Kennedy's 21-4 record in 2011 left him in a tie for the NL wins lead. He also posted a 2.88 ERA and struck out a career-high 198 while helping Arizona finish 94-68.
Kennedy (15-11, 4.16 ERA) couldn't replicate that performance this year, but he has won nine times over his past 14 starts. Those victories have helped give the Diamondbacks (81-80) a chance at back-to-back winning campaigns for the first time since 2007-08.
"Winning never gets old," manager Kirk Gibson said.
Kennedy is 4-0 with a 3.00 ERA over his last six starts, beating the Chicago Cubs 8-3 on Friday despite issuing a season-high six walks. He became the fourth pitcher in franchise history with 15 or more wins in back-to-back seasons, joining Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb.
"To be in that company, it means a lot," Kennedy told the team's official website. "Those are three great pitchers. It's an honor to be mentioned in the same breath and to be in that history of the Diamondbacks. Fifteen wins anywhere is an accomplishment."
Aaron Hill delivered Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Rockies by hitting a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning. John McDonald had a two-run shot during the club's sixth victory in nine home contests.
The Diamondbacks will try to finish strong Wednesday while sending Jeff Francis (5-7, 5.75) to another defeat. The left-hander was 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA in six September starts, giving up five runs over four innings in Friday's 8-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I feel like I'm better than the way I performed, so I'm somewhat disappointed," Francis told the Rockies' official website.
Francis had a solid outing going against Arizona on Sept. 23 before reaching the Rockies' 75-pitch limit for starters. He allowed two runs and five hits over four innings in that game.
He also gave up two runs and five hits in earning a 4-2 victory in Phoenix on July 25, but he was extended to 97 pitches and made it through six innings.
That win snapped a string of six consecutive losing decisions against the Diamondbacks.
Kennedy, meanwhile, is seeking a fourth consecutive win over the Rockies and a third in as many home matchups. He has a 1.29 ERA in two meetings at Chase Field this year, but he gave up four runs and nine hits over six innings at Colorado on Sept. 23.
He avoided the loss in that game when his teammates scored seven runs in the final two innings of a 10-7 victory.
This time, Kennedy will face a team that's already set a franchise record for defeats. The Rockies (63-98), though, avoided their first 100-loss campaign thanks in part to a 7-5, 13-inning victory in Monday's series opener.