Kennedy can't stop slide in loss to Royals

Kennedy can't stop slide in loss to Royals

Kennedy can't stop slide in loss to Royals
KANSAS CITY -- It's been a tough month for Ian Kennedy.

Saturday night's outing continued a string of unsuccessful starts for the Arizona right-hander in the D-backs' 7-3 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Kennedy surrendered six runs on eight hits, including a pair of home runs, over 4 1/3 innings. The long ball has been particularly damaging for Kennedy of late, and the Royals' pair made it five home runs allowed in his last three starts.

Royals designated hitter Billy Butler hit his second homer in as many nights in the bottom of the third inning -- a two-run shot over the left-center field fence to extend Kansas City's lead to 3-0.

"It was a 2-0 fastball," Kennedy said. "[Butler] did what he was supposed to do with it. It was right over the plate. It was supposed to be inside, and it wasn't."

The next inning, it was third baseman Mike Moustakas who got in on the home run action -- crushing a 3-1 pitch over the D-backs' bullpen in right field to make it 4-0.

"Billy Butler, he's a good hitter. Moustakas is another good hitter. They have good guys in their lineup, I just haven't had that much success lately," Kennedy said. "I wasn't sharp at all. They did what they needed to do."

The wheels really fell off in the bottom of the fifth, as the Royals tacked on two more runs. Alcides Escobar, Jarrod Dyson and Eric Hosmer picked up three straight singles to open the inning, with Hosmer's scoring Escobar. Butler then drove in Dyson with a sacrifice fly, making it 6-0, as the Royals chased Kennedy from the game.

The month of May has been a rough one for Kennedy. He's lost all four games he's started, and his May ERA stands at 5.92.

"I'm going to try to learn from this," Kennedy said. "Every time I fail, succeed, anything, I try to learn from it, make myself a little better the next time."

Kennedy hasn't picked up a win since April 22, and the D-backs have lost each of his last five starts. It hasn't been entirely his fault, though, as the Arizona offense has mustered little run support. In those last five starts, the D-backs have scored a total of just eight runs.

The D-backs' offense made a habit of squandering scoring chances in this one as well. Three times in the first four innings, the D-backs led off with back-to-back hits and failed to score.

Arizona's best chance came in the second with runners at the corners and none out. But Cody Ransom struck out, followed by a Ryan Roberts flyout to center. Jason Kubel, the runner at third, decided to tag and try to score, but the center fielder Dyson made a tremendous throw to nail Kubel at the plate.

"I knew he wasn't the quickest runner," Dyson said, "so I just tried to get behind the ball and just come up making a good throw instead of just being quick with everything and not getting a good throw off."

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson was unhappy with his team's inability to cash in on their scoring chances.

"We had so many opportunities in the first three innings. We were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. We left five guys on," Gibson said. "First time they get on, boom-boom, they score a run. We had opportunities. We were very impatient early on in the game. With guys in scoring position, we've got to do a better job than that."

Despite all of the early baserunners, the D-backs couldn't get to Royals starter Bruce Chen.

Chen buckled down with runners on, and he stifled the D-backs in every scoring opportunity. Chen went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out four batters in the victory.

"He threw pitches that we didn't think he was going to throw," D-backs outfielder Justin Upton said. "He didn't necessarily have a go-to pitch. He throws all of his pitches, and he threw all of them in different counts. He never gave in to us. He never threw us the fastball in hitter's counts and made us guess a little less aggressive. We couldn't be as aggressive as we wanted to on him, and it cost us."

The D-backs finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh. Paul Goldschmidt doubled off Chen to open the inning, and two batters later, Roberts doubled to plate Goldschmidt and the D-backs trailed 7-1.

Royals manager Ned Yost lifted Chen after the sac fly, opting to play it safe rather than let his starter keep battling.

"I knew we couldn't take any chances," Yost said. "That's a good offensive club over there, and he was at the hundred-pitch mark on a hot night. We just didn't want to give them any footholds."

After Chen was replaced with reliever Aaron Crow, Willie Bloomquist singled to right field, scoring Roberts and cutting the deficit to five. The D-backs added another run in the top of the eighth on Kubel's sacrifice fly.

The D-backs still have an opportunity to win the series on Sunday.

"It's important that we come back," Upton said. "They jumped out on us early [Saturday], and we've got to come and try to do the same thing [Sunday], put some runs up early, try to establish ourselves and try to get this win. We don't expect to leave here without winning the series, and this doesn't throw a damper on that at all."

Vinnie Duber is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.