Ian Kennedy hasn't taken the mound in nearly two weeks after serving a suspension. Facing the Atlanta Braves in his first start back could prove helpful considering his history in the series.
His counterpart, Tim Hudson, is focused on ending the longest winless streak of his career.Kennedy gets the nod for the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday in Atlanta as Hudson seeks his first win in nearly eight weeks.Kennedy (3-4, 5.21 ERA) was dealt a 10-game suspension after hitting Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke on June 11 at Dodger Stadium. The ball off Greinke's helmet lead to a bench-clearing scuffle and ultimately five other individual suspensions, though Kennedy's was the most severe.He dropped his appeal after giving up one run and four hits over six-plus innings in a 4-1 loss to San Diego on June 16, though he did not get a decision. The right-hander disagreed with the severity of the punishment, but felt dropping the appeal would lessen the distraction."I kept on getting questions every single day and my teammates and everybody else," said Kennedy, who limited Los Angeles and San Diego to a combined three runs -- all on two homers -- and eight hits in 12 1/3 innings. "So I figured it was the best thing for the team so we could put it past us."Kennedy owns a 2.84 ERA in four career starts versus Atlanta with wins in each of the last two, including a 5-3 victory on May 15. He yielded three runs and struck out seven in five innings.Hudson (4-7, 4.10) has compiled a 1.82 ERA over his last five starts, but it hasn't ended a nine-start winless streak dating to a victory over the New York Mets on May 5.The 15th-year veteran's victory drought may be due more to a lack of offense than anything else. His 1.66 run-support average over his last nine starts is the lowest in baseball among qualifying pitchers during that stretch.Hudson received no runs of support for the third time in four starts last Saturday as he yielded two runs over six innings in a 2-0 loss at Milwaukee."That's baseball," the right-hander told the team's official website. "Unfortunately, sometimes you lose games like that. You have to go out there and keep plugging along, and hopefully the tide starts turning a little bit."Hudson opposed Kennedy in May, and gave up five runs in five innings to take the loss, the second game in his winless stretch. He had been 7-0 with a 1.33 ERA in his previous nine starts against the Diamondbacks.Behind Kennedy, Arizona (42-37) should have J.J. Putz back in its bullpen, as he's slated to rejoin the team Saturday. He hasn't pitched since May 7 due to a strained right elbow but yielded one run over four innings in four recent rehab appearances for Triple-A Reno.It is not clear if Putz, who posted a 4.26 ERA while converting five of nine save opportunities before being injured, would immediately slide back into the Diamondbacks' closer role. Heath Bell has a 4.67 ERA in 19 appearances with 13 saves in 15 chances since May 7.Atlanta (46-34) didn't give Arizona an opportunity to close out Friday's series opener, winning for the third time in four games with a 3-0 victory. It was the first time the Diamondbacks were shut out since Sept. 26.Arizona's Martin Prado was 1 for 2 with a walk in his first game against his former club.