PHOENIX — The foundation of Arizona's success this season has come from its ability to get production throughout the lineup, so it was no surprise when two of the team's newest players came through against San Diego.
Ian Kennedy pitched seven effective innings to become the National League's first 17-game winner, but it was Collin Cowgill and Aaron Hill who provided the offense in the Diamondbacks' 6-1 victory, their sixth straight.
Cowgill, the former Henry Clay and University of Kentucky star who made his major-league debut in late July, had been struggling the past couple of weeks, fighting himself and his swing. More relaxed after a chat with a sports psychologist, the rookie had his best game in the majors, hitting a solo homer off Cory Luebke (5-7) in the second inning and a run-scoring double off Erik Hamren in the eighth to finish off a four-hit day.
Cowgill's offensive outburst came in his 12th appearance in the past 13 games.
"He came in and cleared his mind," Manager Kirk Gibson said. "He got his mind freed up, and you could just see how much calmer he was at the plate."
Cowgill was promoted to the majors after putting up big numbers at Triple-A Reno. Before his call-up in July, Cowgill was hitting .354 with 24 doubles, eight triples, 13 home runs and 70 RBI.
"He's a young kid, and he kind of got away from who he was in Triple-A," Gibson told the Arizona Republic. "You could just see how much calmer he was at the plate. So that's big for us."
Hill, acquired in a trade with Toronto on Tuesday, had his first homer with Arizona and added an RBI single, finishing with three hits and three RBI.
Kennedy (17-4) did what he always seems to, churning out another quality start to win for the ninth time in 10 outings. The right-hander settled in after giving up a homer to Orlando Hudson in the second inning, allowing one run or fewer for the 13th time this season to complete the three-game sweep.
"Everybody speculated when I named him Opening Day starter and he's lived up to it," Gibson said of Kennedy. "He's been huge."
The win, combined with San Francisco's loss to Houston, puts the Diamondbacks four games up in the NL West with 28 games left.
"It's unbelievable; they never doubt themselves for one second," Cowgill said. "You find that contagious, you feed off that. When a guy's struggling, there's somebody there to pick them up."
Cowgill told the Arizona Republic he's happy Arizona didn't give up on him despite his struggles at the plate.
"It meant a lot," Cowgill said. "(Manager Kirk Gibson) stuck with me and had confidence in me."
Cowgill told the newspaper he hopes to be able to continue contributing to the surging Diamondbacks.
"What more could you ask for?" he said. "Your first time getting called up, and you're in the middle of a National League pennant race. It's an unbelievable experience so far."