By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- Arizona Diamondbacks ace Ian Kennedy wasn't happy with how he pitched on opening day.
It would be hard for him to complain about how he has fared against the San Diego Padres recently.
Kennedy has piled up a staggering amount of strikeouts in winning five straight starts against the Padres, and he gets his first look at them this season in Thursday night's series finale at Petco Park.
Kennedy won a matchup with San Francisco's Tim Lincecum last Friday by yielding three runs over 6 2-3 innings in a 5-4 victory. The right-hander struck out three and walked two.
"I wasn't real happy with my command," he said. "It wasn't the greatest. I'm just really happy how I battled all the way through against a good team."
Kennedy has posted a 1.82 ERA during his five-game run over San Diego (2-4), with 44 strikeouts and five walks in 34 2-3 innings. He had 27 strikeouts and one walk while taking all three starts against the Padres last season, when he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young Award voting.
He's never lost to San Diego in seven career outings.
In 2011, Kennedy went 10-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 15 road starts, matching Pittsburgh's Kevin Correia for the NL's second-most wins away from home. Kennedy wasn't as sharp in two road starts in the playoffs against Milwaukee, going 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA.
He'll try to get his club back on track after Arizona (4-1) failed in a bid for its first 5-0 start, stranding 11 runners and going hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position in Wednesday's 2-1 defeat. The Diamondbacks wasted Joe Saunders' seven scoreless innings when David Hernandez allowed a two-run homer to Chris Denorfia in the eighth.
"We couldn't close it out," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We had many opportunities. We weren't very good with runners in scoring position. We couldn't get the big hit. We didn't make use of our opportunities and it bit us."
Denorfia entered that at-bat with no RBIs and one single in his first 10 at-bats of the season for the Padres, who are batting .183.
"I think there was a collective sigh of relief from the team there," said Denorfia, a .358 career hitter against Arizona. "We're kind of off to a slow start offensively, and to be able to pick up our pitchers today, who did such an outstanding job, was really important. It's something we can build off."
The Padres will give Anthony Bass his first 2012 start after he threw 50 pitches over four innings in two relief appearances during the season-opening series against the Dodgers. Bass, starting in place of the injured Dustin Moseley, went 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in three starts for San Diego last year as a rookie, pitching five innings each time and never throwing more than 81 pitches.
"I suspect that he can go 70 to 90 pitches," manager Bud Black told the Padres' official website. "His history as an amateur and a minor league pitcher is of a starter. There's no mental anxiety for him to be starting a game."
The 24-year-old right-hander posted a 3.18 ERA in six relief appearances against the Diamondbacks a year ago.
Updated April 12, 2012