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Cashner pitches Padres past Giants

The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO -- Andrew Cashner was on the money, and the San Diego Padres cashed in a rare victory.

The Padres edged the San Francisco Giants 2-1 on Friday night before 34,292 at Petco Park. And it was Cashner's lively right arm that helped the Padres post just their seventh victory of the season.

"For us to be what we want to be, Cash needs to be a guy," Padres manager Bud Black said. "No doubt about it."

Cashner (1-1), in his second start this year and eighth of his career, limited the Giants to one run in six innings. Leaning on a heavy fastball, Cashner struck out five and allowed five hits and a walk as the Padres won their second straight game, beating two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (2-1)

"I was struggling a little bit at the begining of the game. I wasn't making pitches," Cashner said. "I finally settled in and started making pitches and mixed it up a lot."

The Giants, losers of three straight, swept the Padres last weekend. So Cashner's performance was uplifting for a squad that has struggled out of the gate.

While Cashner has opened eyes with his fastball, it's his command of his secondary pitch, a change-up, that makes him more than a one-trick pony. He also sprinkled in a curveball he is developing that seemed to catch the Giants unprepared.

The Giants defeated Cashner last week, but he kept them off-balance by varying his pitches.

"With Cashner, he can throw it 97, 98," Black said. "But he's got a feel for a change-up now. And that's to his credit because he has worked on improving that."

Same goes for hitting and running the bases -- he picked up a single and a stolen base in the third inning, when first base coach Dave Roberts told him to prepared for a ball getting away from catcher Buster Posey.

"I love to hit, love to compete out there and be a complete ballplayer," Cashner said with a stained uniform to prove it. "I thought I ran the bases better than expected. I hesitated a little and got lucky."

What he didn't get was winded as he settled into an effective rhythmn.

"I think it always helps me when I run," Cashner said. "It tired me out a little bit, but I start making pitches instead of just throwing the ball."

Cashner was the key piece of the trade with the Cubs that sent Anthony Rizzo to Chicago before last season. Slowed in spring training by an offseason hunting accident, Cashner and his power are rounding into shape quickly.

"I think it was a carry-over from his last start," Black said. "It was a solid pitched game. We talk all the time about having the ability to make the pitch when you have to.

"Overall, less than 90 pitches up through six innings is solid. In time, he can surpass 100 pitches and keep going. It was great to see he is building on what he did on spring training, on what he did last week, today was anotehr stepping stone. So let's continue on this path with Cash."

He was restricted by a pitch count, which made his performance more impressive. After expending extra pitches getting through the first two innings, he got comfortable and the Giants got nothing.

"I was trying to keep my pitches down," he said. "They are really an aggressive team over there and I was tyring to make pitches in zone early to put it in play. I didn't know how many pitches I had and I wanted to cut down on my walks and try to make good pitches."

After scoring in the first inning, the Giants' bats had few answers for Cashner's fastball, which was clocked at 98 mph. The Giants' first two batters reached in the third, but it was a series of U-turns back to the dugout after that.

"That was impessive," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Cashner's outing. "We have to say that because we scored one run on a wild pitch. He was throwing up to 98 and using all his pitches."

After throwing 83 pitches and retiring the final 12 batters he faced, Cashner gave way to the Padres' bullpen in the seventh.

The bullpen is billed as a Padres strength. That prove to be true with relievers Joe Thatcher and Dale Thayer combining on a spotless seventh. Setup specialist Luke Gregerson worked the eighth, and he duplicated Thatcher and Thayer with a clean inning.

Next was closer Huston Street, seeking his second save of the home stand. But Street would have to navigate the potent middle of the Giants' order to gain it.

Street got Pablo Sandoval on a lazy fly to right, but Buster Posey followed with a sharp single. Hunter Pence came up representing the go-ahead run, but he went down swinging.

But Brandon Belt stroked a single to left, chasing pinch-runner Joaquin Arias to third. With runners on the corners, Street coaxed Brandon Crawford into a soft grounder to second, which Jedd Gyorko flipped to Everth Cabrera to force Belt for the final out.

"Huston worked his way out of a jam and had to make a good pitch to Crawford," Black said. "He kept the ball down and got his grounders and the last one went to our guy."

The Giants got to Cashner early, scoring once in the first.

Angel Pagan opened with a single, stole second and took third on a force out. Cashner then uncorked the first of his two wild pitches, with Pagan scampering home.

"I'd like to have that one back," Cashner said of the wild pitch that gave the Giants their lone run.

The Padres appeared poised to tie the score when Yonder Alonso opened the second with a walk and Chris Denorfia followed with a single. Gyorko sent a ball to the left-center gap, but Pagan made a sensational diving catch that probably prevented two runs from scoring. John Baker grounded into a double play to end the threat.

The Padres took the lead in the third when Alonso's single chased home Chase Headley. They had tied the score earlier in the inning when Carlos Quentin drove in Cashner, who was aboard via a walk.

"I elevated pitches," Lincecum said. "When you get to a place where you need a strikeout, you tend to over throw and leave it up in the zone and that's what happened."

NOTES: Black said Kyle Blanks will start in right field on Saturday against the left-handed Barry Zito. Blanks has been nursing a sore shoulder after running into the AT&T Park wall last Sunday while making a catch. ... Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin's sore wrist remains in a splint, and the team won't have a clear picture for his return until it is removed. There is no timetable when that might be. ... Padres infielder Logan Forsythe is out of his walking boot and is roughly 10 days from returning to baseball activities. Forsythe started the season on the DL with a foot injury. ...Crawford and Pence are the only Giants to start all 23 games this season. ... Zito, Saturday's starter, has allowed nine runs this season. All nine came in his lone road outing, April 14 at Milwaukee.
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