PHOENIX -- There was no sense and no need for Padres manager Bud Black to criticize the not-so-finer points of Eric Stults' start on Tuesday, unless he really, really wanted to get nitpicky.
And truth be told, getting six innings of three-run baseball has generally been enough to sustain these Padres, who have made great headway in the second half of the season due in large part to their bats.
On Tuesday, though, it was simply a case of the other guy being better, as D-backs starting pitcher Ian Kennedy allowed one run over eight innings, as Arizona held off a late charge for a 3-2 victory over the Padres in front of a crowd of 20,811 at Chase Field.
"The way he [Kennedy] threw the last four innings was more indicative of how he threw last year," Black said. "This was a classic case of where he got better as the game went on."
Kennedy wasn't untouchable, as he often was during the 2011 season when he won 21 games, as the right-hander allowed seven hits and appeared to be teetering in the first inning.
With one out, Logan Forsythe singled and moved to second base when Chase Headley walked. That's when Yasmani Grandal reached on an infield single. Yonder Alonso, who had two hits in the game, then hit a fly ball to left field that allowed Forsythe to score.
From that inning on, Kennedy appeared to be a different pitcher. In fact, he allowed three hits over the last three innings with three strikeouts to stymie the Padres.
"That was a big spot of the game where we needed to capitalize," said Alonso, who raised his average to .276 while also driving in his 56th run of the season.
The Padres had other chances, like Headley's two-out double in the fifth inning. Or the leadoff single by Alonso one inning later when Chris Denorfia bounced into a double play. Then in the seventh inning, it was Everth Cabrera with a two-out triple, but Forsythe just got under a pitch, flying out to left field to end the inning.
"They put really good at-bats together. I was falling behind trying to establish my off-speed stuff. They didn't hit the ball particularly hard in the first inning, but you have to scrap through it," Kennedy said. "I always say they are a very good hitting team, you can tell by their record over the last month. They are playing really well."
As for Stults, he allowed five hits and three runs with three walks and six strikeouts. Two of those walks came around to score, one coming in the first inning when the D-backs scored twice and another in the fifth inning after Justin Upton's walk was eventually followed by the second of Miguel Montero's run-scoring doubles.
On Aug. 24, Stults tossed seven scoreless innings against the D-backs at Chase Field. This time around, they had a different tact at the plate.
"They had a different approach ... they were sitting more off-speed, especially early in the count," Stults said. "They were a little more aggressive.
"The thing tonight was a couple of walks and two-out hits. The biggest disappointment for me was just the walks."
The Padres had hits in seven of the nine innings and made things a little interesting in the ninth when closer J.J. Putz allowed a Denorfia single to center field that Adam Eaton misplayed, giving Denorfia plenty of time to race all the way to third base.
He then scored on Will Venable's sacrifice fly before Putz got the final two outs for his 30th save of the season.
All told, the Padres were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"We're getting guys on base ... that's the good thing," Black said. "I like the fact that we're getting guys on base at a good rate."
This was the D-backs' first victory against the Padres at Chase Field in seven games, a point that wasn't lost on Kennedy.
"They were playing pretty good, they've beaten a lot of people," he said. "They've taken care of us the last six times here. They are a good team. Their record of late shows that."