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SD@ARI: Kennedy fans six over eight stellar frames

The D-backs' destiny is out of their own hands, as they need a great deal of help to capture the National League's second wild card. But if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive, Friday's game against the Cubs at Chase Field is an absolute must win.

With Thursday's loss to San Francisco, Arizona's elimination number is down to one, meaning any D-backs loss or Cardinals win ends the club's playoff chances in 2012.

So while Arizona can't control what happens to St. Louis the rest of the way, it can handle its own business in the final six games of the season, starting against Chicago.

For Friday's crucial game, D-backs manager Kirk Gibson will send Ian Kennedy to the mound. It will be Kennedy's third time facing the Cubs this season, and he hopes Friday goes better than the previous two meetings.

Although Arizona came back to beat Chicago on June 23, Kennedy only lasted 4 1/3 innings, surrendering five runs on 10 hits. Less than a month later, the 27-year-old right-hander allowed seven hits and six runs in an 8-6 loss at Wrigley Field. In the last meeting, Kennedy struggled against Alfonso Soriano, who connected on home runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

"I think you need to execute better against him," Gibson said. "He's a very good veteran guy who's been around a long time. He's had success against us, it's our job to make him uncomfortable and not throw balls down the middle like that."

Cubs manager Dale Sveum hopes Soriano can help spark the Chicago offense, which has struggled through much of the season. Chicago has been one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to scoring runs, and Sveum said a sluggish offense won't cut it against a dangerous Arizona team.

"That's been the biggest Achilles heel," Sveum said. "We can talk about all the facets of the game, but we're close to the bottom of the barrel in scoring runs and pitching as well. You have to score runs, you have to hit home runs, you have to have slugging percentage to score runs."

The Cubs are far from playoff contention, but they are trying to avoid the 100-loss mark. They enter Friday with a 59-97 record, and starter Travis Wood said the potential for triple-digit losses is on the minds of everyone in the clubhouse.

"I just want to finish strong and give the team a chance to win," Wood said. "We're trying hard to not lose 100 games, and I'm going to do everything I can to prevent that."

Cubs: Players happy with first-year skipper
Although the wins haven't always been there this season, Cubs players have no complaints with the job Sveum has done in his first season.

Darwin Barney said he enjoys spending time with Sveum after games -- sometimes for hours -- and his ability to relate with players has made a rough season, in terms of wins and losses, better.

"The communication is there with everybody," Barney said. "If you want a straight answer, he'll give it to you, and if you want to talk about situations in the game and why it happened, he's open door for that."

• With a win on Friday, Wood would eclipse his career high in wins for a season. Currently sitting at 6-12, Wood enters the game against the D-backs tied for his career high, which he set while with Cincinnati in 2011 -- his second season in the Majors.

In 24 starts this season, Wood has notched a 4.23 ERA with 113 strikeouts. His last outing saw him go five innings while surrendering two earned runs on three hits against the Cardinals.

D-backs: Arizona to cap season at home
Friday marks the beginning of a six-game homestand to end the season for the D-backs, who haven't seen much more success at Chase Field than they have on the road.

Entering Friday, Arizona was 38-37 at home. Meanwhile, the D-backs finished the season with a 40-41 record away from Chase Field. Last season, Arizona's ability to win at home was a major factor in the team's playoff run, as the D-backs went 51-30.

Worth noting
• The Cubs enter Friday winless this season in road games against the National League West.

• In six previous games this season, Arizona and Chicago are an even 3-3, with the home team winning every game.

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