PHOENIX (AP) — Eric Stults had baffled the Arizona Diamondbacks the last time he faced them. In fact, the San Diego right-hander hadn't lost a game since June 3.
But he and his teammates weren't quite good enough Tuesday night against Diamondbacks right-hander Ian Kennedy, who got stronger as the night went on.
Arizona's 3-2 victory marked the first time the Padres had lost at Chase Field this season. They had swept their first two three-game series in the desert.
Stults (6-3) had gone 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his seven starts since rejoining the rotation on Aug. 6. The last time he faced Arizona, on the same field on Aug. 24, he had blanked the Diamondbacks on three hits over seven innings.
This time, he said, "They had a little different approach."
"They were sitting off-speed tonight, especially early in the count," Stults said. "The first two times I faced them I was able to get ahead early (because) they were more a little more aggressive early in the count."
Kennedy, meanwhile, survived a 30-pitch first inning to go eight, allowing a run and seven hits. He struck out six and walked two, one intentionally.
"The way he threw the last four innings was more indicative of how he threw the ball last year, when he won 20 (actually 21) games," Padres manager Bud Black said. "A good fastball at the top of the zone and had some carry to it. Early in the game he threw a lot of off-speed pitches and not many fastballs. It was a classic case of him getting better as the game went on."
Kennedy (14-11) is 8-3 in his last 12 starts.
"He's aggressive now. You see his velocity up. In the last inning he was throwing 90-91 (mph)," said catcher Miguel Montero, who drove in two runs with two doubles. "And his command, his command on his secondary stuff, he's been able to throw it for a strike. That's big. It's not like they're just sitting on fastball because he can't locate a breaking ball. Right now he can throw every pitch for a strike."
Stults gave up three runs and five hits in six innings.
"Stultsy did fine," Black said, "a little bit of an elevated pitch count, which is something he hasn't done. He has been very efficient and throwing the ball well. He gave up three runs and I am sure he wishes he had a couple of pitches back, some breaking balls that stayed up in the zone. He threw well enough to keep us in the game. Their guy just outpitched, bottom line. "