PHOENIX - Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson plans to decompress during the All-Star break. But he won't get away for good. He'll think about the second half of the season and what first-place Arizona needs to do to hold off the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.
Ian Kennedy is sure to enter his thoughts, as well.
Kennedy's struggles on the mound continued in Arizona's 5-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday. He gave up nine hits and five earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings. Over his past two starts he's allowed 18 hits and 10 earned runs in 14 innings, and his 5.42 ERA is the second-worst among National League starters.
More troubling: Kennedy (3-6) hasn't won a game since June 1.
"Terrible," Kennedy said when asked to describe his performance the first half of the season. "I'm not pitching to my abilities. I've been very inconsistent."
Gibson said Kennedy will start Friday in San Francisco. But his patience with the veteran right-hander may be wearing thin. That was apparent when Gibson departed from the norm and went out to the mound to have a chat with Kennedy in the second inning.
Normally, Gibson leaves the dugout only to make a pitching change. But after Kennedy had allowed four runs on six hits and a walk, he wanted to deliver his message personally rather than through pitching coach Charles Nagy.
"It was basically, (I needed) to make adjustments quicker," Kennedy said. "I knew if I didn't, I was out of the game. He didn't say that, but I knew."
Kennedy settled down, allowing one more run - a Logan Schafer solo homer - before departing with one out in the seventh.
"He had to get his butt going," Gibson said. "He did, but I'd like to see him do that out of the gate."
Kennedy's biggest problem is his inability to put hitters away after getting to two-strike counts. The first four Brewers up Sunday all had two strikes. Three of the four were in either 0-2 or 1-2 counts. Yet all four singled, including a two-run hit by Carlos Gomez, and the score was 3-0 before Kennedy recorded his first out.
Catcher Miguel Montero said Kennedy hasn't been able to get batters out with his secondary pitches, his curveball and changeup.
"He is a guy who is known for his command painting corners and that gets stuck in his head a little bit and he nibbles sometimes," Montero said. "(When) he tries to place his change-up down in the strike zone, his arm speed is slower ... and it's easy to recognize the pitch."
Kennedy's spot in the rotation isn't in imminent danger. But with Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill expected to come off the disabled list in late July or early August, Gibson will have some options.
"He expects a lot out of me and I expect a lot out of myself," Kennedy said. "I have the All-Star break to figure (things) out."
D-backs hitters couldn't figure out Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta for seven innings. Montero homered for the second straight game, but Arizona went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position, failing to capitalize after getting the leadoff man on six times.
But the D-backs (50-45) won the home series with Milwaukee 3-1 and still head into the break leading the Dodgers by 2 1/2 games.
"We are in first place," Gibson said. "We had a lot of trial and tribulations, but the team has hung in there well."
• Today: Home Run Derby, 5 p.m. ESPN
• Tuesday: All-Star Game, 5 p.m., Ch. 11
• Friday: Diamondbacks at Giants, 7:15 p.m., FSAZ
Contributing: The Associated Press