He pitched aggressively. He exuded poise on the mound. He looked like the guy who had impressed the Phillies' organization in Spring Training instead of the timid guy who carried a gaudy 17.47 ERA into a critical start against the Braves.
Kendrick allowed just four hits and two walks in eight scoreless innings as he impressively handed closer Ryan Madson a three-run lead in the ninth. But disaster struck in just seconds and the Phils lost in 10 innings, 4-3.
Just like that, a nice victory to open a nine-game road trip turned into a killer loss when Madson allowed back-to-back two-out home runs to veteran Troy Glaus and rookie sensation Jason Heyward in the ninth inning to tie the game. Jose Contreras sealed the loss when he allowed a leadoff homer to Nate McLouth in the 10th to give the Phils a three-game losing streak.
"It doesn't feel good to do that to somebody after they pitched like that for eight solid innings," Madson said. "It's part of the game, and we won't let it happen tomorrow."
Roy Halladay can make sure of that. He pitches Wednesday.
But Tuesday was supposed to be Kendrick's night. Instead, the Phils revisited a familiar problem: Blown saves. Brad Lidge and Madson blew a combined 17 last season, 14 of them coming in the ninth.
"Our bullpen has been a concern," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Madson walked Chipper Jones with one out. He got Brian McCann to fly out to right field for the second out, but threw Glaus -- whom Braves fans booed throughout the night -- a 1-1 fastball over the heart of the plate, which he hit for a two-run home run to cut the Phillies' lead to one.
An 0-1 changeup to Heyward caught too much of the plate, and he hit a solo homer to right field to tie the game.
"He got a hold of it," Madson said.
McLouth got a hold of his, too.
"My last couple of at-bats, I started to see the ball well," McLouth said. "He made two good pitches to start the at-bat and then I took two good fastballs to even the count. He left a split up and I reacted to it."
The Phils looked for a silver lining Sunday in a 2-0 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, and they found one after Cole Hamels allowed two runs in eight innings. They had to look for a silver lining again Tuesday.
The Phillies are getting tired of silver linings. They want wins.
Kendrick said he spoke with Halladay following Wednesday's start against the Nationals at the Bank, where he allowed six hits, six runs and three walks in just 1 2/3 innings.
"Be more aggressive," Halladay told Kendrick.
"I really wanted to attack the strike zone," Kendrick said. "If I get hit, so be it. If I get hit, I'm being aggressive."
He retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced, until he found trouble in the fourth. Atlanta had the bases loaded with one out, but Kendrick got Glaus to hit into an inning-ending double play. Kendrick pumped his fist and smiled as he darted into the visitors' dugout on the third-base side.
Manuel said he had no plans to have Kendrick pitch the ninth. Kendrick lasted just four innings in his first start April 8 and then 1 2/3 innings Wednesday. This was the longest he had pitched. He had thrown 108 pitches, and the Braves had started to hit some balls hard against him.
"He was done," Manuel said. "The game was set up good for us at the end. I know he was throwing a shutout, but the game was set up where that's basically what we had to do."
Madson had converted his first three save opportunities this season, but he couldn't convert this one.
"We wanted to win tonight as much as any," Manuel said. "They took it away from us. There's not much you can do about it, except sit there and watch it. We had guy on the mound that we wanted out there. I don't know what you do."