(AP) — Ian Kennedy was simply marvelous down the stretch, winning almost every time he pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Too bad for Kennedy, he was pitching out of the stretch way too much Saturday.
Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and the Milwaukee Brewers made Kennedy work hard in his first postseason appearance, beating the Diamondbacks 4-1 in their NL playoff opener.
The Brewers' pair of MVP candidates combined for five hits, and Fielder's two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning made it 4-0 and chased Kennedy.
Kennedy went 21-4 this season, including 13-1 in his final 15 starts. The streak included a win over Milwaukee in which he threw seven scoreless innings, and only once during that run did he allow more than three runs.
"It's real tough because you feel like everything falls on my shoulders," Kennedy said. "It's frustrating 'cause I feel like as the starting pitcher you have got to set the tone. You'd like to take the first game, but we'll have to brush this off quickly."
The right-hander had precision control this year, but struggled to pinpoint his pitches against Milwaukee.
"My location was all over the place," he said. "I wasn't getting ahead of guys. That kind of sums it up. It was frustrating.
"I wasn't getting ahead of guys. It's frustrating when it's a big game like this and you just want to pound the strike zone."
Yovani Gallardo, meanwhile, emerged from the shadows and pitched the Brewers to victory.
Gallardo retired 14 of 15 during one stretch, perhaps helped by how the shadows cut across the infield. With an early start time, the sun peeked through the retractable roof at Miller Park all afternoon, creating a crazy, changing pattern.
Gallardo gave up one run and four hits over eight innings and matched a postseason franchise record with nine strikeouts.
"He was dialing up every single pitch he threw," Kennedy said. "He was throwing hard and throwing really well tonight. You have to be perfect when a guy is throwing like that."
Game 2 is Sunday. Zack Greinke will start for Milwaukee against Daniel Hudson.
"We've got a good guy pitching tomorrow, and we've been down before and we've been resilient," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "We'll come back with a good attitude and believe we can win tomorrow."
The Brewers broke open the opener in the seventh. Gibson left Kennedy in to face Fielder with two outs and first base open, bypassing the chance to intentionally walk the big first baseman and instead pitch to Rickie Weeks.
"I wasn't going to do that," Kennedy said.
Gibson, Kennedy and catcher Miguel Montero spent a few moments on the mound discussing the situation.
"There was a conversation," Kennedy said. "Obviously, I wanted to go after him. He asked Miggie (Montero) what he thought. We talked about walking him, but like I said, I'm not going to do that."
Fielder hit the second pitch from the right-hander into the right-field stands.
"I just hung that curveball," Kennedy said. "I kind of brought it right down into the middle of his swing."
Gibson took the blame for leaving Kennedy in to face Fielder.
"It was a bad decision on my part, obviously," he said.
Another option was to bring in left-hander Joe Paterson, who was ready in the bullpen.
"It didn't work out," Gibson said. "He threw probably the worst pitch of the game. Fielder, give him credit. He hit a good swing on it and hit it out of the park."
Gallardo was only nicked by Ryan Roberts' home run in the eighth, and won in his first postseason start since a Game 1 loss in the 2008 NLDS to Philadelphia. An All-Star in 2010, he went 17-10 this season, yet is rarely mentioned among the elite pitchers in the game.
He's even overshadowed — so to speak — on his own staff by Greinke.
Braun, who fell just short of the NL batting title, contributed three hits. The All-Star left fielder also threw out a runner at the plate in the first inning as Milwaukee's shaky defense was suddenly solid.
John Axford pitched a perfect ninth for his first save after converting his last 43 in a row in the regular season. The Brewers started 1-0 at Miller Park after winning a major-league best 57 times at home during their run to the NL Central title.
Gallardo's lone mistake came when Roberts homered off him to start the eighth. But the 25-year-old struck out Gerardo Parra, pinch hitter Sean Burroughs and Bloomquist to end the inning.
NOTES: Diamondbacks hitting coach Don Baylor was back with the team after he fainted in the clubhouse on Friday. He was released from the hospital early Saturday morning. Baylor said he fainted because of a complication with medicine he was taking for back spasms. ... Brewers radio broadcaster Bob Uecker threw out the first pitch and Joseph Attanasio, father of principal owner Mark Attanasio, sang the national anthem. ... Greinke is 11-0 with a 3.13 ERA in 15 home starts, and Milwaukee is 15-0 in those games. ... Hudson is 0-3 in his last three starts with a 4.26 ERA.