MILWAUKEE -- After establishing himself as the D-backs ace with a 21-win season that saw him go 13-1 with a 2.36 ERA over his final 15 starts, Ian Kennedy entered his Game 1 start against the Brewers on a roll.
But unfortunately for Kennedy, he exited it with a rare loss, as he was pegged for four runs -- two coming on a homer from Prince Fielder with two outs in the seventh -- over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-1 defeat to the Brewers on Saturday at Miller Park.
"It's real tough because I feel like it falls on my shoulders," Kennedy said. "It's frustrating because I feel like as a starting pitcher you've got to set the tone in Game 1. You'd like to take that first game."
Instead, Arizona finds itself in a 1-0 hole, as Milwaukee ace Yovani Gallardo outdueled Kennedy, surrendering just one run and striking out nine over eight innings. Kennedy, making his first career postseason start, suffered from command problems, allowing eight hits, walking a batter, plunking two and needing 111 pitches to record 20 outs.
"My location was all over the place," said Kennedy, who threw first-pitch strikes to 17 of the 31 batters he faced. "I wasn't getting ahead of guys. That pretty much sums it up. It's frustrating when it's a big game like this."
However, Kennedy still managed to cruise through his first six innings, giving up two runs to that point, with the first coming on a sacrifice fly from Jerry Hairston with the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Milwaukee scored its second run in the sixth, when Yuniesky Betancourt tripled with two outs and came around to score on a bloop single from Jonathan Lucroy.
The right-hander said he never intended to intentionally walk Lucroy -- the Brewers' No. 8 hitter -- and that it was just an unlucky break that the ball fell into shallow left field for an RBI single.
"I made my pitch and he just placed [it] just right," Kennedy said. "I mean, I got him 1-2, and there was no thought [of walking him intentionally]. Maybe if it was [to get to] a guy who couldn't hit, but Gallardo can swing it a little bit."
But it was in the seventh inning when Kennedy had a more difficult decision to make, as after giving up a two-out double to Ryan Braun, he was greeted at the mound by manager Kirk Gibson and catcher Miguel Montero to discuss how they would handle Prince Fielder.
Kennedy said Gibson brought up walking Fielder intentionally to get to Rickie Weeks, but that he told his manager he wanted to face Fielder.
"There was thoughts to [walk Fielder] but I wasn't going to do that," Kennedy said. "It was a conversation and he just asked me what I thought, and obviously I wanted to go after him."
The decision backfired, however, as Fielder crushed an 0-1 curveball for a two-run blast that knocked Kennedy out of the game and gave the Brewers a four-run lead.
"I left him in, it was a bad decision on my part obviously," Gibson said. "He pitched great other than the mistake he made to Fielder."
Montero said the pitch location was fine, but Fielder -- who hit 38 homers this season -- was able to connect on the backdoor curveball and put it in the seats.
"You don't want to make a mistake with him, you've got first base open," Montero said. "It wasn't that bad of a curveball, it was low, but typically lefties are low ball hitters and he just went down and golfed that ball pretty good and he's strong enough to hit it out of the ballpark."
The home run ended Kennedy's afternoon and left a sour taste in his mouth, but he said he's confident his team can bounce back despite their Game 1 loss.
"We're just going to have to forget this and move on," Kennedy said. "We're in good hands with [Daniel] Hudson going, so I think we just need to get on the board early and get after them."