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SD@ARI: Kennedy fans seven over seven innings

PHOENIX -- Sunday afternoon, 5,000 kids walked into Chase Field and were handed Ian Kennedy Growth Charts.

Three hours later, 27,564 fans walked out of Chase Field after Kennedy and the D-backs handed the Padres a series sweep in a 6-1 victory.

But to see the growth that the 26-year-old right-hander has made over the first two full seasons of his career, look no further than the leaderboard for National League pitching wins.

Kennedy's seven innings of one-run baseball propelled the D-backs to their sixth straight win, their largest division lead all season -- four games -- and Kennedy to the top of the NL with 17 wins.

"I had the confidence that I could," Kennedy said about winning consistently. "It's a little harder at the big league level, but really, all you do is just try to be that consistent every time."

Tied with the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw entering the game, Kennedy allowed one run on six hits, struck out seven and didn't issue a walk to trail only the Tigers' Justin Verlander (20) for the Major League lead in wins.

"There's some great guys up there," Kennedy said. "If you would have said this early on in the season, I probably would have said, 'That's not going to happen.'"

Kennedy's performance marked the 13th time in 27 starts that he's held the opponent to one or no runs and the 16th time he's pitched at least seven innings.

"I'm a little hard on myself that I try to be consistent," Kennedy said. "If I go six innings and two runs, I want seven innings and it's something that you strive for. Sometimes you fall short and sometimes you achieve it."

But Kennedy's NL Cy Young Award resume wasn't the only thing growing at Chase Field on Sunday.

Collin Cowgill's confidence joined the party, as the D-backs rookie outfielder cashed in a career day with four hits, including his first Major League home run.

"It does a lot," Cowgill said. "Whatever I can do to help, obviously it's going to help us in the end."

Cowgill's offensive outburst came in his 12th appearance in 13 games, as he battled through a slump and met with the team's sports psychologist to get his mind in a better place.

"He came in and cleared his mind," Gibson said. "He got his mind freed up, and you could just see how much calmer he was at the plate."

With the D-backs trailing, 1-0, in the second, Cowgill lifted a 2-1 offering from San Diego left-hander Cory Luebke over the right-field fence for a solo home run.

Cowgill added two singles and a run-scoring double in the eighth as the D-backs tacked on three insurance runs.

"I finally got an opportunity to play and to get a couple at-bats together," he said. "And it was great to get that first hit out of the way and keep it rolling."

Cowgill's second-inning home run was followed-up by Aaron Hill's first as a D-back and seventh this year in the third, a two-run shot to left-field for a lead Kennedy and the bullpen wouldn't relinquish.

"I think today was an all-around team effort," said Hill, who had three hits on the day. "Everybody contributed through the lineup and it was a fun game."

After allowing a solo home run to Orlando Hudson in the second, Kennedy kept San Diego's offense at bay, allowing only two runners to reach second base the rest of the way.

His 17 wins mark the highest win total for a D-backs pitcher since Brandon Webb's 22 in 2008.

"He changed speeds, had good locations with the fastball and his secondary pitches are solid," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We couldn't string any hits together."

Bryan Shaw and Zach Duke followed Kennedy, each pitching an inning of scoreless relief as Arizona's bullpen was once again afforded rest.

J.J. Putz warmed up for the ninth, but was sat down after three eighth-inning runs -- on Cowgill's double, a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Roberts and an infield single from Hill -- and Gibson said he could have used right-hander David Hernandez if necessary.

"We needed to try and rest our bullpen as much as we could and it worked out well," Gibson said.

Kennedy's performance extends a stellar streak for D-backs starters, who have allowed only five runs in six games.

The series sweep was the team's sixth of the season and coupled with a Giants loss - which the team watched postgame from inside the clubhouse -- gives Arizona a season-high four-game lead on San Francisco entering a three-game home series with the Rockies on Monday.

"As long as we keep winning," Cowgill said, "we don't have to watch too much." Comments