"I was happy I was able to keep my fastball back down in the zone," Cashner said.
To a large degree, Cashner accomplished both of his goals against the D-backs, though he came out of it a tough-luck loser, allowing four runs -- all unearned -- in six innings of the Padres' 8-4 loss at Petco Park.
Cashner yielded five of the seven hits he allowed in the pivotal second inning, when a throwing error by second baseman Yangervis Solarte opened the flood gates to a four-run inning.
"The biggest thing is not letting the inning snowball on you. I've got to be better than that. I know that," Cashner said. "It's tough, [because] you want to pick up Solarte there."
One of the few fastballs Cashner elevated Monday was a 2-0 pitch to Ender Inciarte in the fourth, a pitch that the D-backs' leadoff hitter turned into a two-run double. Chris Owings then followed with an RBI single into left field, a "good pitch," Cashner said, that Owings took the other way.
All in all, though, Cashner looked a lot like the 2014 Cashner at times -- he struck out nine, mixed pitches and wasn't as reliant on heavy fastball usage. He walked one, retired nine in a row at one point and was a bulldog when the team needed him.
"I thought he mixed pitches better," said Padres manager Bud Black. "I thought that was the plan. He executed that, the number of changeups he threw, much more than he threw last week. The number of sliders he threw, much more than last week."
To be sure, Monday was a step forward from a week ago, when Gonzalez's three-homer night ruined his outing, in which he allowed five earned runs in five innings.
"I felt that I had some of the best stuff I've had in a long time [on Monday]," Cashner said. "I felt I had a good slider, changeup, good fastball command. In the second, I kind of lost my command a little bit.
"Tonight, overall, was better. I was staying tall in my delivery, a lot better getting the ball down. I made a couple mistakes, but overall I thought it was a positive outing."