Kennedy struck out a season-high 11 over seven-plus innings for his National League-leading 19th win as the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the San Diego Padres 4-1 on Thursday night.
"When you're a little kid, 20 wins is what the best guys do," Kennedy said. "When you grow up and learn how hard it is, it's not a realistic goal."
Kennedy (19-4) scattered seven hits and did not walk a batter over 7 2/3 innings. The right-hander joined Detroit's Justin Verlander and New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia as the majors' only 19-game winners.
"I keep saying good bullpen and timely hitting and that's the truth," said Kennedy, who entered the season with a 9-10 career mark. "You saw last year how (games) can get out of hand sometimes and that's what makes the difference between a no decision and a win."
Kennedy faced only two batters over the minimum in his first seven innings before tiring and allowing a run on three hits in the eighth. J.J. Putz pitched the ninth for his 38th save.
"He was exceptional," said Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson. "He's got pinpoint control, he has various pitches that he goes to and he limits his mistakes."
Justin Upton hit his career-best 29th home run for the Diamondbacks, who won for the 14th time in 16 games to open a 7 1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West. Arizona's magic number to clinch its first division title since 2007 dropped to 12.
Upton left the game in the seventh with a cold he caught during the Diamondbacks' recent series in Colorado.
"I hate playing there," Upton said with a chuckle. "It always takes something out of you."
Corey Luebke (5-9) allowed two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out nine.
"Any time you are in a pitchers' duel like that, one or two pitches can cost you," said Padres manager Bud Black. "That was the case with tonight's game but Cory stayed with him. We were close enough but he just couldn't bunch enough hits together or get the big ball in the gap to get us closer."
Paul Goldschmidt gave the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead in the fourth with a one-out, line-drive homer that landed in the first row of the left-field bleachers. Upton made it 2-0 in the sixth, hitting Luebke's first pitch deep into the left-field stands.
"I was making sure I didn't have to sprint anywhere," Upton said.
Luebke has allowed 11 home runs this season -- seven to the Diamondbacks and three to Upton alone.
"He's got me right now but I'll figure him out eventually," Luebke said. "He's not going anywhere."
Arizona made it 4-0 in the seventh off Brad Brach. Brach hit Kennedy in the jersey with a pitch with one out, Willie Bloomquist singled and Aaron Hill hit an apparent double-play grounder to short. But Orlando Hudson's relay throw went well wide of the first-base bag, allowing Kennedy to score.
Montero followed with an RBI single off Joe Thatcher to bring home Hill.
Padres INF Logan Forsythe underwent arthroscopic surgery Thursday to debride his left knee. Forsythe will begin rehab immediately and should be ready for full activity in spring training. ... Arizona has won 13 straight at home, the second-best streak in the majors this season. Cleveland won 14 straight from April 3 to May 10. ... Kennedy is 5-0 in seven career starts against the Padres. He has won four straight starts and 10 of 12. ... San Diego has lost seven of its past eight against Arizona. ... Luebke's nine strikeouts matched a career high set on August 6 at Pittsburgh. ... Montero extended his hitting streak to 16 games. ... RHP Mat Latos will start for the Padres on Friday. He will be opposed by RHP Daniel Hudson, who is 15-5 with a 3.18 ERA in his last 25 starts.