Ian Kennedy set the bar pretty high with his outstanding 2011 campaign and even with a down year, he still did something last time out that only three other Arizona Diamondback pitchers have ever done.
Kennedy, coming off his 15th victory of the season, gets the call for the Diamondbacks on Wednesday evening in their finale of a three-game set with the Colorado Rockies to close the season.
The right-hander was a huge surprise a season ago, going 21-4 with a 2.88 earned run average in his second campaign with the Diamondbacks. He hasn't had the same success in 2012, going 15-11 with a 4.16 ERA through 32 up-and-down outings.
He was up last time out, winning his fourth straight decision on Friday in a meeting with the Chicago Cubs. He allowed three runs, working through four hits and six walks in 5 2/3 innings. He also fanned five, but Arizona was still eliminated from contention for a playoff spot.
Still, Kennedy joined Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Brandon Webb as the only pitchers in Diamondbacks history to log back-to-back 15-win seasons.
"To be in that company, it means a lot," Kennedy told Arizona'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."
The 27-year-old got a no-decision in Colorado the previous time out, giving up four runs over six innings. He is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 11 career starts versus the Rockies.
Jeff Francis owns a 15-win season in his career, picking up 17 victories with the Rockies back in 2007. The pending free agent will try to close out his 2012 campaign with his sixth victory of the year.
Francis began the season in Triple-A with the Cincinnati Reds and has gone 5-7 with a 5.75 ERA in 23 starts since rejoining the Rockies. He lost his third straight decision on Friday versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, yielding five runs on six hits and a walk in four innings of an 8-0 decision.
The 31-year-old lefty hasn't won since Aug. 27, going six straight outings without a victory.
Francis is 8-7 with a 4.69 ERA in 22 career outings versus the D'backs, including a no-decision on Sept. 23 in which he hurled four innings and gave up two runs.
Arizona picked up a thrilling 5-3 victory in Tuesday's contest as Aaron Hill connected on a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to snap his club's two-game slide.
"It's a great feeling," said Hill, who ended with three hits. "Any time you can produce to help your team win, but especially in a situation like that. That's what you think about when you're a little kid when you're playing on the street."
John McDonald had a pair of hits, including a two-run homer, and Brad Ziegler picked up the win by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth in relief of David Hernandez, who surrendered a two-run double to Jordan Pacheco that had given the Rockies a 3-2 advantage entering Arizona's final at-bats.
Hill's blast came off Rafael Betancourt (1-4), with the Colorado closer blowing his seventh save of the season after allowing three hits in the ninth.
Pacheco finished 2-for-4 and starter Jhoulys Chacin yielded just three hits over five shutout innings for the Rockies, who had dropped three straight prior to a 7-5, 13-inning triumph in Monday's opener.
The Diamondbacks are 10-7 versus the Rockies this season.