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ARI@SF: Kennedy fans seven in eight innings to win it

SAN FRANCISCO -- Following their 5-2 win over the Giants on Monday night, the D-backs were quick to point out that it was just one game.

"They'll come back tomorrow," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "It's just one game. We don't want to overstate what we did tonight."

No, but it's worth noting that with their third win in a row and seventh in their last nine, the D-backs have pulled to within just one game of the Giants in the National League West.

"I think this series is very important," winning pitcher Ian Kennedy said. "It's so close you want to keep it close. You don't want to let them creep away. They've been kicking our butt. They've owned us the last couple of series. I feel this series is very important to keep this momentum going into tomorrow, hopefully."

Kennedy (13-3) certainly did his part in winning his fifth straight start. The right-hander allowed a home run to Cody Ross to lead off the bottom of the first inning, but then kept the Giants off the board until Aubrey Huff opened the seventh with a homer.

"Solo home run, I just had to start over," Kennedy said of Ross' blast. "I was throwing a lot of strikes and that's the only thing that matters in that situation. We're going to have to score to win anyways."

That was no sure thing with Matt Cain on the mound for the Giants.

Cain has owned the D-backs in his career, having won his last five decisions against them, and the Giants had come out on top the last six times the right-hander faced Arizona, including three times this season.

It looked like more of the same for Cain on Monday as he held the D-backs scoreless through the first five innings.

In the sixth, though, the D-backs began to lay off pitches that were just off the plate, forcing Cain to come in the strike zone with his fastball, and when he did, they capitalized.

Arizona sent nine men to the plate while scoring five times and chasing Cain (9-7) from the game.

"The biggest thing I saw was pitch selection, making him throw strikes," said shortstop Willie Bloomquist, who capped the inning with a grounder up the middle that scored a pair. "Getting good pitches to hit. He's got obviously electric stuff, so if you're chasing pitches that are just off the plate with him, he's going to carve you up pretty good. We were able to put together a pretty good inning against a good pitcher."

After that, it was up to Kennedy, and other than the homer by Huff, he kept the Giants at bay. In three starts against the Giants this year, Kennedy has allowed just two earned runs in 24 innings.

"I was just throwing my fastball, really, letting them into play," Kennedy said. "I was trying to get early-count outs and just trying to throw the fastball for strikes. I felt like later on my changeup might have been the second-best pitch. I didn't throw that many curveballs."

Closer J.J. Putz came on in the ninth and after allowing a pair of two-out singles, he got pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand to fly out to end the game and recorded his third save in as many days.

"They're all big, really, but it was nice to come in and get Game 1 and hopefully it kind of sets the tone for the rest of the series," Bloomquist said. "We beat one of their horses today and our guy pitched pretty dang good, too. They're obviously world champs, so we've got to come in and beat them if we want to be the best."

The fact that the D-backs are this close to first place late in the season has surprised many, but don't include Giants manager Bruce Bochy among them.

"I never doubted that," Bochy said. "They're a good club, and they've had a nice year. They have good pitching -- you saw their guy tonight -- and a good closer. It's going to be a battle. I expected it to go down to the wire, to be honest."

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