PHOENIX -- Wednesday night against the Atlanta Braves, D-backs starter Ian Kennedy not only twirled a career-best seven shutout innings, he threw 114 pitches. The 25-year-old right-hander has now thrown 100-plus pitches in 11 of his 13 starts this season, but he's certainly not alone in the department.
Staff ace Dan Haren averages 110 throws per start this season, with Edwin Jackson (103), Kennedy (105) and Rodrigo Lopez (97) following behind. Arizona starters as a group average 101 pitches per game, which is the third most among National League clubs.
"I've been pushing these starters quite a bit," manager A.J. Hinch said Thursday morning, before adding, "The 100-pitch count is glossy and a big number that everybody circles, but 110 or 115, depending on how they get there, is fine."
Take Kennedy as an example: He has reached triple digits in five innings (which is obviously more taxing than when spread over six or seven innings) on three separate occasions this season. The only other D-backs pitcher to throw 100-plus pitches in five innings or less is Lopez, though he's done it just once, on April 14.
Because Arizona is idle on Monday -- following its three-game home series against the St. Louis Cardinals -- Hinch said he would consider keeping his pitchers on turn, giving each an extra day's rest.
"It's possible we could tweak it depending on how these starters' outings are going," he said before Dontrelle Willis' second appearance in a D-backs uniform on Thursday. "The off-day allows me to make decisions. With that in mind, I can extend a guy."
Such was the case June 1, when Haren threw a season-high 126 pitches in eight shutout innings, the manager said, because the team's No. 1 starter would have six days of rest entering his June 7 outing.
Speaking of the rotation, one through five may finally be set. Unfortunately for Kris Benson, he's not among them. While Willis sparkled in his D-backs debut (six shutout innings and a win) last Saturday, it appears Benson may have missed the boat. In his fourth rehab start on Tuesday -- he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right (throwing) shoulder on April 28 -- Benson allowed four earned runs in four frames.
Young gets some rest on Thursday
PHOENIX -- For the first time in 19 games on Thursday afternoon, Chris Young wasn't in the D-backs' starting lineup.
"He's really been playing well, and playing with a lot of energy," manager A.J. Hinch said before his club's series finale vs. the Braves. "These guys need some rest. He's probably the guy I have rested the least."
Young entered Thursday with a productive homestand (6-for-21 with a home run and five stolen bases), but his absence paved the way for Gerardo Parra to start in center field and bat seventh, one night after Parra's inside-the-park home run proved crucial to Arizona's 2-1 victory over Atlanta.
Young didn't get the whole day off, however, as Hinch put him in for Parra in a fifth-inning double-switch. Young led off the bottom of the fifth by striking out against Atlanta starter Tommy Hanson. The right-handed hitter led off the seventh with his 10th home run of 2010, a blast off Braves reliever Cristhian Martinez.
Other notes: Adam LaRoche (2-for-20 halfway through the 10-game homestand) was back in Thursday's starting lineup after coming in off of the bench Wednesday night. Plus, catcher John Hester started in place of Chris Snyder, who was mired in a 2-for-16 slide.
Entering Thursday's game, third baseman Mark Reynolds had just two hits in his last 18 at-bats, though they were both home runs. ... Shortstop Stephen Drew hadn't committed an error in 32 games. ... The D-backs were 18-0 when plating at least six runs and 6-36 when scoring five or less. ... Veteran relief pitcher Luis Ayala has struggled since signing a Minor League contract with Arizona. He was 0-1 with a 6.52 ERA after seven appearances. Triple-A Reno teammate and top first-base prospect Brandon Allen had homered in two of his last four games.
Andrew Pentis is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.