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PIT@ARI: Kennedy hurls eight scoreless to win No. 20

PHOENIX -- When he walked into the clubhouse Monday night after completing a postgame interview on the field, D-backs pitcher Ian Kennedy was given a standing ovation by his teammates.

That scene will be the thing Kennedy remembers most about the night he became the National League's first 20-game winner with a 1-0 victory over the Pirates.

"I was surprised," he said of the ovation. "I got a little chocked up because it meant a lot to me. I've had a lot of fun this year and for them to be as happy as they were, it's something I can't describe."

Kennedy (20-4) was dominant in allowing just one hit -- a single to left in the third by opposing pitcher Jeff Karstens -- and one walk while matching his career high with 12 strikeouts in eight innings.

"I speak for everyone in here, everybody is just so happy that he's finally got it," closer J.J. Putz said. "He's worked his butt off all season long and he's been our ace and then some. Hopefully he keeps going and hopefully he gets some hardware [NL Cy Young Award] at the end of the year."

The milestone win was not the only reason for the mood in the home clubhouse to be jubilant as the D-backs picked up a half-game to move 5 1/2 games ahead of the idle Giants in the NL West and reduced their magic number to four.

They also pulled to within one game of the Brewers in the race for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

"That's the most important part, which is winning games and taking away that magic number and clinching here pretty soon," Kennedy said. "I'm just glad that No. 20 has happened and now I'm just ready to go into the playoffs and hopefully the World Series."

It was the second attempt at the win for Kennedy, and when it was over he was more relieved than anything to know he would not have to answer any more questions about being one win away.

And after watching his former Yankees teammate Mike Mussina finally win 20 games in his 18th and final big league season in 2008, Kennedy was appreciative that it happened in just his second full season in the Majors.

"I'm just glad I've done it this early and now I don't have to get questions later on in my career when I'm at the end of it," said Kennedy, who is the fourth pitcher in D-backs history to win 20, joining Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Brandon Webb.

Kennedy, who has won 12 of his last 13 decisions, retired the final 14 batters he faced, including the last six by strikeout.

"He was throwing every pitch for strikes," Pirates outfielder Alex Presley said. "He got us on the defensive early. He did a good job."

Karstens (9-9) was nearly as good as Kennedy as he allowed just five hits over six innings.

One of those hits was a broken-bat homer by Justin Upton in the sixth.

Upton connected on the 3-0 fastball from Karstens and his bat broke down near the handle. Upton was left holding the handle while the rest of it landed out nearly third base. It was his 31st homer and the first of his career on a broken bat.

The ball just cleared the wall in left field, and the umpires reviewed the play to make sure that there was not fan interference on the play.

"I knew I had barreled the ball up," Upton said. "I guess I hit it on the wrong part of the bat or the wrong side of the bat, I don't know what it was. I don't know if it was cracked before or whatnot. I have no clue how it happened to be honest with you. The ball just carried."

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson toyed with the idea of taking Kennedy out after seven innings and likely would have pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the seventh had the D-backs gotten a runner on base.

Putz came on to try and nail things down in the ninth and there were some anxious moments when Presley tripled with one out.

Putz, though, got Neil Walker to ground out to first and fanned Andrew McCutchen to end the game and seal the win.

"There's easier ways to do it," Putz said with a smile. "Especially with him going for 20, I was really hoping I could get the job done there for him." Comments