SAN DIEGO (AP) — Andrew Cashner is learning on the fly when it comes to starting major league games. This was another positive step.
Cashner pitched 7 1-3 innings of four-hit ball and the San Diego Padres beat the Miami Marlins 5-0 on Monday night.
“Andrew was very good tonight,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “I like the fact that he pitched into the eighth inning and gave our bullpen a rest. It was a clean win for us with good defense and timely hitting, but starting pitching is the key to our success.”
Cashner (2-2) struck out four and walked three in the longest outing of his career. Dale Thayer finished the five-hitter in front of a season-low crowd of 14,596 at Petco Park.
Cashner was a reliever at the beginning of last season, then made five starts toward the end of the year. The right-hander began this season in the bullpen after an offseason thumb injury hampered his ability to stretch out during spring training.
But he’s back in the rotation now, and he bounced back quite nicely after a rocky showing in a loss at Chicago in his previous start.
Cashner, who can reach triple digits with his fastball, dominated Miami with his slow stuff. His changeup was an out pitch, and his sinker set up key double plays.
“I made good pitches when I needed to, which got me through some tough times,” he said. “I think that’s big. And that was the longest I’ve ever gone in a major league start, so there’s definitely some confidence built from that. If I execute earlier in the game, I’ll be able to routinely go deep into games and help my team win.”
Miami was shut out for the fifth time this season, tying Atlanta and Philadelphia for most in the majors. The Marlins are last in the league with a .226 team batting average and 98 runs this season.
The lackluster performance came a day after Miami scored 14 runs in a victory over Philadelphia.
“We had a couple chances early and we didn’t capitalize,” manager Mike Redmond said. “We didn’t get it done, and we’ve been struggling with guys in scoring position. It’s frustrating when that happens.”
Jedd Gyorko homered for the third time in six days and Chase Headley had an RBI double for San Diego, which has won four of five and nine of 12. It was the Padres’ first shutout the season.
Wade LeBlanc (0-5) allowed four runs, three earned, and four hits over five innings in his first career start against his former team. The left-hander is 0-7 with a 6.35 ERA in his last 12 appearances dating to last season.
Miami handed a run to San Diego when catcher Rob Brantly dropped Carlos Quentin’s two-out popup in the first, allowing Everth Cabrera to score from second.
Gyorko connected in the second, driving a 1-0 pitch over the wall in center for his third homer of the season.
“That’s a sign that my timing is good,” said Gyorko, who is batting .333 with six RBIs in his last 14 games. “I have a natural lift in my swing, and the ball will travel if the bat’s on time. Right now it is. The key now is to sustain it.”
That’s also the key for the Padres as they try to stay on a roll after getting off to a dismal 5-15 start.
“We’re playing the way we thought we were capable at the start of the season,” said Headley, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games. “Baseball is funny that way, with stretches where nothing goes right and others where you get it all turned around. Hopefully our slow start will be a blip on the radar and we’ll play well for the majority of the year.”