Kennedy roughed up in loss to Dodgers
Right-hander gives up six runs, three homers in 4 1/3
LOS ANGELES -- Ian Kennedy nibbled Tuesday afternoon and the Dodgers wound up feasting as they rolled by the D-backs, 9-5, in front of an Opening Day sellout crowd.
For Kennedy to be effective like he was during the latter part of Spring Training and in his first regular season start, he needs to get ahead of hitters so he can then use his mix of pitches to put them away.
That did not happen Tuesday.
"He picked early, trying to nibble at the plate too much and they got into really good hitter's counts," Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said. "It cost us."
Kennedy (0-1) paid the price. Pitching in front of family and friends, the Huntington Beach, Calif., native allowed six runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
"It's frustrating," he said. "I need to make better pitches and not put them in hitter's counts all the time. That's what I felt like I was doing. It was 2-1 or 2-0. For me, that's real frustrating because I've got to get ahead of guys and go after them and it felt like I was pitching from behind the whole time."
Possibly because they were in hitter's counts, the Dodgers were able to do some serious damage when they did hit the ball.
In fact, of the Dodgers first five hits, two were doubles and three went for homers.
"We just couldn't keep the ball in the ballpark," Hinch said.
Kennedy ran out of gas in the fifth because the Dodgers made him work hard for the outs he did get. The right-hander threw 29 pitches in the second inning and a whopping 33 in the fourth.
"I threw way too many pitches," Kennedy said. "It's just really frustrating when I do that. I'm never going to win games when I do that. I was just barely missing. It was me. They were balls. They were just a little off or a little down. A lot of two-seamers running out or cutters than ran away from the plate."
Kennedy's counterpart, Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, was not exactly a strike machine himself, walking five.
The difference, though, is that Kershaw has overpowering stuff that allows him to overcome that. In addition to a live fastball, he has a good 12-to-6 curveball and a slider that he is continuing to improve. Tuesday, he threw a lot of breaking stuff.
"He threw us a lot of junk," Hinch said. "Threw us secondary pitches, a lot of sliders, a lot of breaking balls, which isn't uncommon and he was effectively wild. That's kind of how he pitches, he lived on the edge. Early, we were swinging through a lot of pitches and that's a tribute to what his stuff is, he's got good stuff. He did execute when it mattered the most and we fell short."
With the score still close at 4-1, the D-backs had a chance in the top of the fifth to get to Kershaw, who opened the frame with back-to-back walks to Chris Snyder and Kennedy.
Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal then made the play of the game with a diving backhanded stop of Conor Jackson's hard grounder and turned it into a fielder's choice.
Kershaw hit Stephen Drew to load the bases, but third baseman Casey Blake turned Justin Upton's grounder into an out at home and Adam LaRoche flew out to end the inning without a run scoring.
"We've just got to try and scratch something there," Snyder said. "The guy on the bump was throwing the ball well, made some good pitches in the key spots when he needed to. Worked himself into trouble and worked his way right out of them."
That did seem to be a turning point as the Dodgers scored a pair in the bottom of the fifth and then three more in the sixth.
"We had a lot of opportunities in the top of the fifth," Hinch said. "They made a great play, Furcal, and then Blake made a headsup play to throw us out at the plate. Those two innings were swing innings. I thought we were still in the game even when we were behind."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.