Sports

Arizona starts key series with win in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — Ian Kennedy watched Cody Ross’ leadoff home run sail into the seats in left field and quickly told himself to regroup.

After that, Arizona’s ace dominated the defending champs.

Kennedy struck out seven in eight innings to win his fifth straight start, and the Diamondbacks beat the San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Monday night in a matchup of the National League West’s top two teams.

Kennedy (13-3) moved into a share of the NL lead for wins with Phillies ace Roy Halladay and Dodgers All-Star Clayton Kershaw. Kennedy’s big night also helped Arizona pull within one game of the World Series champion Giants in the division race.

“I think this series is very important,” Kennedy said. “You want to stay close. You don’t want to let them creep away.”

The Giants, who dropped their fourth straight after being swept in Cincinnati over the weekend, have been alone in first place in the West since June 25. They couldn’t do enough on an off night by All-Star Matt Cain (9-7).

Ross and Aubrey Huff each hit solo home runs for San Francisco, Ross leading off the first and Huff on an 11-pitch at-bat in the seventh, but Kennedy still has allowed three or fewer runs in seven of his eight career starts against San Francisco.

Kennedy allowed six hits, two runs and walked one. After Ross’ homer, he retired 10 straight and 17 of 19 before Carlos Beltran’s sixth-inning triple. J.J. Putz pitched the ninth for his 25th save in 29 chances, getting pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand on a game-ending liner to right with two runners on.

Beltran, San Francisco’s newly acquired slugger, went 2 for 4 in his home debut and received a warm standing ovation from the sellout crowd at AT&T Park when he batted in the first inning. Beltran grounded into an inning-ending double play in the eighth with two runners aboard and his team trailing by three runs. Beltran had gone 2 for 17 in his first four games since the New York Mets traded him last Thursday. The Giants are 1-4 since Beltran arrived.

Shortstop Orlando Cabrera, another Giants newcomer, went 1 for 4.

Cain was tagged for five runs in the sixth inning, the first time he has given up five in an inning since doing so in the bottom of the first on Sept. 11, 2008, at San Diego. The right-hander has only allowed more than five runs once this year.

“We made some good pitches. We just didn’t get those couple of groundballs to go at guys,” Cain said.The Giants kicked off an important 10-game homestand with another tough loss for their second four-game losing streak of the year. Five games is the team’s longest.

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