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SD@ARI: Kennedy fans 11 over 7 2/3 dominant frames

PHOENIX -- As the D-backs creep closer to clinching the National League West, their ace is also approaching a milestone.

Ian Kennedy picked up his National League-leading 19th win as he pitched the D-backs past the Padres, 4-1, on Thursday night in front of 21,402 at Chase Field.

The win was the 14th in the last 16 for the D-backs, who increased their lead in the National League West to 7 1/2 games over the idle Giants.

With the Brewers' loss to the Phillies, the D-backs closed to within 1 1/2 games of Milwaukee for the second-best record in the NL and a more advantageous first-round playoff matchup.

As for Kennedy, the right-hander improved his record to 19-4, and with four starts likely left during the regular season, he has a good shot at reaching the 20-win plateau.

"I keep saying good bullpen, timely hitting and it's the truth," Kennedy said when asked about his high win total. "It's what happened tonight. Just pass it over to our bullpen. You saw last year how it can get out of hand sometimes and it's just the difference between getting a no-decision and a win."

Kennedy allowed one run on seven hits and did not walk a batter while fanning 11 before being removed with two outs in the eighth.

"It's fun to watch," outfielder Justin Upton said of Kennedy. "He's done it night after night. Every time he steps on the mound he's been great for us."

Though his 2.90 ERA is higher than some of the other contenders, his teammates certainly think he should be in the discussion when it comes to the NL Cy Young Award.

"He's been great all year," third baseman Ryan Roberts said. "In my eyes, he's the most underrated. I don't see him talked about a lot. You see the Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee stories a lot, but you never hear about him. If you come see the guy pitch ... I don't know why he's not being talked about a lot. The guy's been phenomenal all year."

Kennedy carved up the Padres, holding them to four hits through the first seven innings.

"There's no doubt he's come into his own," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's pitching with a lot of confidence. He's truly pitching. There's a reason why he has won 19 games."

Cory Luebke held his own for the most part, allowing solo homers to Paul Goldschmidt in the fourth and Upton in the sixth.

"Justin has got me right now," Luebke said of Upton, who has three homers in three games against the San Diego lefty. "We're going to figure that out. He sees the ball against me. Now, it's up to me to pitch to his weaknesses. I'll get him eventually. He's not going anywhere."

The Padres sure wish Upton would go somewhere as he has six homers in 45 at-bats against them this year.

"I just got a fastball down the middle and squared it up," Upton said. "It was a great pitch to hit. The middle of our lineup is swinging the bat pretty well right now and that's going to be huge down the stretch for us."

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson removed Upton from the game for a pinch-runner in the seventh due to the illness Upton has been fighting.

"I've just been feeling sick since we played in the cold and rain of Colorado," Upton said. "I've been taking medicine and stuff, so I'm a little dehydrated."

San Diego has also seen about enough of Kennedy this year. In three starts against the Padres he is 3-0 with a 1.74 ERA.

"Fastball command," Kennedy said when asked what was working particularly well for him Thursday. "Later on my changeup was good, but fastball command early on. I was just trying to get ahead of guys."

The Padres' lone run off Kennedy came with two outs in the eighth when Will Venable's single to left scored Nick Hundley. Comments