Kennedy Outduels Zimmermann, 2-0

Following his shutout performance against the Nationals on Tuesday, it’s easy to understand why Arizona righty Ian Kennedy (16-4, with a sparkling 3.09 ERA), is being mentioned so prominently as a candidate for the N.L. Cy Young Award. Kennedy threw seven innings of six hit ball while striking out eight, to lead the Diamondbacks in a 2-0 skunking of the Nationals. While facing a revived Washington line-up known for stunning last minute wins, Kennedy was never really in danger — and added a single and a double of his own to the victory.

While the D-Backs win was hardly seizmic, the Snakes are suffering through the aftershocks of a six game losing streak — and we can hardly fault them for being concerned about losing their fragile lead in the N.L. West to the San Francisco Giants. Kennedy’s performance outshone that of Nationals’ lefty Jordan Zimmermann, who was nearly as good — giving up a home run to Sean Burroughs (with a man on) that proved the difference.

Zimmermann — who must be accounted as the Nationals most effective pitcher this season — lasted into the seventh, but could not complete the inning, taking his eleventh loss against eight wins. It is likely that Washington fans have seen the last of Zimmermann for the year, as he will probably be making only one more start for the season, and that one will probably come on the road.

For a time on Tuesday, it appeared that the Nationals and D-Backs would pick up where they left off in Arizona, the last time the two teams met, back in early June. That knock-down contest came close to sparking a donnybrook, and the same thing nearly happened on Tuesday — when Justin Upton (knocked down in Arizona) was hit by Zimmermann in the top of the fourth. In the bottom of that frame, Ian Kennedy seemed to retaliate, hitting Morse. Both benches were warned.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Speaking of earthquakes, the ground is opening up under the St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis fans rarely boo their hometown boys, but they did last night when the Redbirds gave up two runs to the Trolleys in the top of the ninth, losing 2-1. The catcalls came down as the Cardinals then went quietly in their half of the inning . . .

In the wake of that loss, St. Louis outfielder Lance Berkman was philosophical, suggesting that losing by one run was embarrassing “but so is getting blown out.” So, tonight against the same sorry bunch from L.A., the Cardinals decided they would . . . ah, ah . . . get blown out. The final score in this “contest” was 13-2, and this time Cardinal fans didn’t even bother to boo . . .

The face-plant of the Cardinals in the N.L. Central (they’re now ten games back of the Milwaukee Brewers — and really, it’s not even that close), will make the headlines tomorrow. But the story of tonight’s game wasn’t the head-spinning performance of otherwise steady starter Kyle Lohse (three innings, eight hits, eight runs), but the breathtaking dominance of L.A. ace Clayton Kershaw — who picked up his 16th win. He threw a lot of pitches (108), but he struck out eight in just six innings.

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