video thumbnail

SD@CIN: Kennedy dazzles over eight strong frames

CINCINNATI -- As members of the media shuffled out of the visiting manager's office at Great American Ball Park on Sunday following the Padres' 3-2 loss to the Reds, San Diego skipper Bud Black slammed a drink into the trash can next to his desk.

Black had just watched his team strand 15 runners and go 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position en route to the loss, which ended on Joey Votto's walk-off sacrifice fly in the 13th. Padres pitching gave up just five hits in the extra-inning marathon, and starter Ian Kennedy took a shutout to the eighth before giving up a two-run homer to tie the game. However, despite numerous chances, the Padres couldn't capitalize.

"That was the key to the game," Black said. "We pitched our butts off, and we put ourself in opportunities to score and we just didn't do it. I think we had some hittable pitches, too, and we just didn't do it today."

The most glaring squandered opportunities came in the game's final three innings, as the Padres put a runner on third in each frame without anything to show for their efforts.

After back-to-back singles and a balk resulted in runners on second and third with two outs, Will Venable struck out for the third time to end the 11th. Three walks loaded the bases in the 12th, but Ronny Cedeno flew out to right field for the final out of the inning. Jedd Gyorko led off the 13th with a double, only to eventually be left standing on third after a strikeout and a pair of groundouts.

"When you get into extra innings, it's a grind," said Logan Forsythe, who went 1-for-4 in the loss. "You're just waiting for that big hit. They got it and we didn't today. And Ian pitched a heck of a game, too."

Making his second start with the Padres since coming over from the D-backs just before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, Kennedy walked a batter in each of the first two innings and gave up a single to opposing starter Mike Leake to open the bottom of third. He then proceeded to retire the next 16 batters he faced.

Unfortunately for Kennedy, the next batter to draw a hit off of him eventually helped the Reds tie the game.

With one out in the eighth inning, Zack Cozart singled on a grounder that was misplayed by first baseman Yonder Alonso. In the next at-bat, Kennedy threw four straight changeups to pinch-hitter Xavier Paul, who let the first one go by before missing badly on the second and third. The fourth changeup was one too many, as Paul drove it 422 feet to right field for the game-tying two-run shot.

"They were almost identical changeups," Kennedy said of the two pitches that went for strikes. "I was just trying to duplicate that and just got under it. It's one of those pitches, you throw it and hope he takes it because it was probably going to be a ball, it was so high. He's a high-ball hitter. It stinks when you feel like you threw the ball well and then you make one mistake that ties the ballgame up."

Following the home run, Kennedy forced a groundout and flyout to end the inning and his day. In eight innings, he allowed just three hits while striking out three and walking two. Kennedy also gave up two runs in his first start with the Padres, and after going 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA for Arizona, he feels rejuvenated in San Diego.

"I can't really pinpoint it," Kennedy said. "Maybe just a change of scenery. I feel really comfortable with the guys. Not that I didn't feel that over there, I'm just executing a little bit better since I've been over here. Thats the thing I've noticed, that my fastball command has been a little better down in the zone rather than up."

Once Kennedy exited, the bullpen didn't allow a hit until Jay Bruce connected on a single in the 12th. Nick Vincent escaped the inning, but right-hander Tim Stauffer allowed a leadoff walk, a double and then hit pinch-hitter Ryan Hanigan before Votto's fly ball to deep let field scored the winning run.

"Boy, it was looking bleak for a while," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Every time I looked around, we were in trouble. We kept battling and battling and finally pushed a run across."

The Padres' only runs came in the second inning, which Alonso and Forsythe opened with back-to-back singles, setting up Cedeno, who loaded the bases with a one-out single of his own. Rene Rivera then hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Alonso easily from third. Forsythe also came around to score when shortstop Cesar Izturis cut off center Shin-Soo Choo's throw and tried to pick up the double play at second. Instead, Izturis' throw went wide and all the way to the right-field wall in foul territory.

San Diego fell to 1-4 in the last five games. In the losses, the Padres have combined to score 10 runs, while scoring only three -- two of which were unearned -- in the one win. The inability to do the little things it takes to score runs has become a frustrating problem for Black and the Padres.

"Whether guys are trying too hard, whether guys are squeezing the bat a little bit, I'm not sure," Black said. "Obviously, we have to do a better job of that moving forward with this group. A lot of these guys are going to be with us going into next year. That's an area where some of our guys with lesser service time or some of our guys coming into their own have to improve. Hitting with runners in scoring position, that tough at-bat with two outs, really fighting to put the ball in play, having good swings, good at-bats. Today it didn't happen for us."

MLB.com Comments