Kennedy's struggles in May continue

Kennedy's struggles in May continue

Kennedy's struggles in May continue
PHOENIX -- At no point last year did D-backs ace Ian Kennedy lose two straight decisions on his way to winning 21 games for the division-winning club. But after battling through another rough outing Friday night, the 27-year-old has dropped five straight starts.

Surrendering four earned runs -- including two homers -- over 5 2/3 innings, Kennedy and the D-backs lost, 7-1, to the Brewers in the first game of a weekend series at Chase Field that doubled as a rematch of the 2011 National League Division Series.

"It's a bad run, it's been rough so far," Kennedy said. "I'm obviously trying to figure out what it is every time. I work hard in between starts. I have to keep the same approach and throw every pitch with conviction and have the results be what they be."

With Friday's defeat, Kennedy now hasn't won a start in over a month, dating back to April 22 against the Braves.

"He hasn't been able to locate the ball," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said of his starter. "I don't think he's locating the ball down as well as he needs to do. He's not able to throw his secondary pitches for strikes like he did. He's close, just not able to get much elevation in his pitches."

The Brewers also got to the D-backs' pitcher when they matched up twice in the postseason. Combined with the two NLDS starts, Kennedy has allowed 10 earned runs in his last 18 1/3 innings against Milwaukee.

Despite consistently putting runs up on Kennedy, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke noticed a difference Friday than the previous time he saw him.

"Last year when we faced him, he didn't miss too many spots," Roenicke said. "Everything he threw, especially his fastball, had fabulous command. When he wanted to throw in, it was always in. When he's pitching that way with the great changeup and the nice breaking ball, that's why he was so good last year. Today was just one game, but he didn't have the same command he had against us last year."

Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo tossed 7 1/3 strong innings of one-run ball to earn his first win since May 8. The D-backs managed just five hits off the right-hander and grounded into four double plays, all of the 6-4-3 variety, to kill potential rallies.

"We weren't able to capitalize on our opportunities," Gibson said. "He pitched good against us. You've got to play well, you've got to hold tight and make the most of your opportunities. He made some good pitches. He's got a good game plan and he executes it."

The sole bright spot of the night for the D-backs came in the form of Jason Kubel, who celebrated his 30th birthday by connecting on a solo homer in the fourth. He finished the game with two hits and two walks.

"I just tried to stay patient and wait to get something to hit," Kubel said of his home run. "I was able to get a good pitch to hit, and that time I pulled it off."

After retiring the first five batters he faced, Kennedy served up the first long ball of the night, a two-out solo shot off the bat of Rickie Weeks in the second inning.

Two innings later, the Brewers played long ball again off Kennedy, this time courtesy of a two-run opposite-field homer from Ryan Braun.

"He's a good hitter, he's done that to me before," Kennedy said. "That's why he's as good as he is. You've got to give credit to him."

Cesar Izturis added a two-out RBI single later in the frame to give the Brewers a 4-0 cushion.

Kennedy pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, but the Brewers again worked the bases full with two outs an inning later, prompting Gibson to bring in Brad Ziegler from the bullpen. The submariner eventually got Braun to ground out to Willie Bloomquist to keep the score at 4-1.

After the D-backs put the first two men on before squandering the scoring opportunity in the seventh, Corey Hart hit a two-run homer off Josh Collmenter to extend the Milwaukee lead to 6-1.

"Hart was just waiting for a changeup out over the plate," Gibson said. "So the home run hurt us."

In his previous three appearances against Milwaukee, Collmenter had allowed just one run over a combined 21 innings. That one run was also a homer from Hart, a solo shot in Game 3 of the NLDS.

Arizona loaded the bases again in the eighth, but Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez induced a double play from Ryan Roberts to quell yet another potential rally.

Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for Follow him on Twitter @TylerEmerick. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.