PHOENIX – A 30-pitch first inning did not doom Ian Kennedy's start against San Diego.
Far from it.
The Arizona right-hander found his rhythm, carried it through eight innings and the Diamondbacks finally got a home victory over the Padres, 3-2 on Tuesday night.
"When that happens, you've got to be really efficient as the game goes on and try to go as deep as possible," Kennedy said of the high early pitch count. "I was really happy that Gibby (manager Kirk Gibson) allowed me to go into the eighth. He asked me how I felt and I said I felt pretty good, so he said all right."
Kennedy (14-11) scattered seven hits, striking out six and walking two, one intentionally. A 21-game winner in 2011, he is 8-3 in his last 12 starts.
"He's aggressive now. You see his velocity up. In the last inning he was throwing 90-91 (mph)," said catcher Miguel Montero, who drove in two runs with two doubles. "And his command, his command on his secondary stuff, he's been able to throw it for a strike. That's big. It's not like they're just sitting on fastball because he can't locate a breaking ball. Right now he can throw every pitch for a strike."
San Diego, which lost for just the third time in 12 games, was 6-0 in Arizona this season before dropping the series opener. The Diamondbacks stayed 4½ games out in the wild-card race with just 15 to play.
Eric Stults (6-3) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings in his first loss since June 3. The left-hander had gone 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in seven starts since rejoining the Padres rotation on Aug. 6.
"Stultsy did fine," San Diego manager Bud Black said, "a little bit of an elevated pitch count, which is something he hasn't done. He has been very efficient and throwing the ball well. He gave up three runs and I am sure he wishes he had a couple of pitches back, some breaking balls that stayed up in the zone. He threw well enough to keep us in the game. Their guy just outpitched, bottom line. "
The Padres got a run in the ninth inning after Chris Denorfia singled and reached third when the ball got past Adam Eaton in center field for a two-base error. Will Venable's sacrifice fly brought Denorfia home but J.J. Putz retired Jesus Guzman and pinch-hitter Mark Kotsay to earn his 30th save in 35 opportunities.
Kennedy, pitching on an extra day's rest, struck out seven, two in his final inning. He walked two, one intentionally. His 121 pitches were one shy of his season high.
Stults struck out six, walked three and hit a batter. The last time he faced the Diamondbacks, at Arizona on Aug. 29, Stults blanked the Diamondbacks on three hits over seven innings.
"They had a little different approach," he said. "They were sitting off-speed tonight, especially early in the count. The first two times I faced them I was able to get ahead early (because) they were more a little more aggressive early in the count."
Arizona center fielder Chris Young, in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 3, aggravated his right quadriceps injury running down a fly ball for the first out of the game.
"Extremely frustrating," Young said. "I've been practicing every day and you put in a lot of work to get back to right. Game speed's just a little different, so as soon as I had to turn it up, it grabbed on me, and it's time to start from scratch again, it seems like."
When he left the game, Eaton shifted from left to center, and Gerardo Parra came in to play left.
After the substitution, Logan Forsythe singled and Chase Headley walked, then Yasmani Grandal singled off the glove of Kennedy to load the bases. Yonder Alonso hit a sacrifice fly to left. Parra's throw reached home ahead of the runner, but Forsythe slid under the tag of the catcher Montero, who did not block the plate.
The Diamondbacks responded with two runs in the bottom of the first. Eaton led off with a walk, stole second, and, with two outs, scored on Paul Goldschmidt's single. Goldschmidt scored from first when Montero doubled to right.
Arizona added a run in the fifth when Justin Upton drew a one-out walk and raced home from first on Montero's double high off the wall in center.
The Diamondbacks had runners at first and third with one out in the seventh, but Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera fielded Goldschmidt's grounder, spun around as he touched second, then fired to first for the inning-ending double play.
Eaton has reached safely in 10 of his first 11 major league games. Parra is the only Arizona player to reach safely in his first 11 big league contests.
Notes: In their two three-game sweeps in Arizona, the Padres outscored the Diamondbacks 42-20. ... Arizona's top minor league club, the Reno Aces, won the Triple-A championship 10-3 over Pawtucket on Tuesday night. Two other D-backs minor league teams, Double-A Mobile and Rookie League Missoula, won their league titles. ... In Game 2 of the series on Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks go with RHP Trevor Cahill (11-11, 3.92 ERA) against the Padres' RHP Edinson Volquez (10-10, 4.24). ... Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic will throw out the first pitch at Wednesday night's game.