Cashner regroups after rough first, gets first win

Despite two Padres errors, righty tosses solid six innings

Cashner regroups after rough first, gets first win

CHICAGO -- Going into his start Sunday, Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner was well aware that two of the team's top relievers, Dale Thayer and closer Craig Kimbrel, would be down because of frequent usage over the past few games.

So what happened in the first inning at Wrigley Field? The Padres committed two errors to extend the inning, which resulted in a heavy workload for Cashner, who needed 33 pitches to get three outs.

No, not ideal by any means.

"After that first inning, I tried to focus on getting quick outs, staying around late in the game," Cashner said. "You always want to be the guy who can save the bullpen."

Cashner was just that guy, as he settled down, got outs early in counts and made it through six innings after a rocky start to earn his first victory of the season as the Padres topped the Cubs, 5-2.

Cashner yielded the two unearned runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He allowed just two hits after the first inning.

"To be able to give us six [innings] when we were a little thin down there, that was pretty impressive of Cash. That was big stuff," said Padres reliever Shawn Kelley, who tossed a scoreless eighth inning.

Cashner, after allowing three home runs to the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez in his first start, hasn't allowed an earned run in his past 12 innings. He's mixed pitches better, making good use of his slider and changeup to go with his heavy fastball. As a result, he's done better in regard to not running into deep counts.

"I was really proud of Cash the way he hung in there and gave us six innings when we needed length from the starter," said Padres manager Bud Black.

Cashner said that after a chaotic start to the season -- errors have led to eight unearned runs while he's been on the mound -- he finally felt like his old self after the first inning Sunday. His ERA after his first three starts this season is now 2.65.

"I think the mental grind to kind of start the season has definitely been tough," Cashner said. " … I think today finally I settled down after the first, second innings, really started to make pitches.

"I made a couple mistakes with my sinker today, but for the most part, my sinker was down. Really good changeup today, some good sliders, but finally was able to locate my fastball down and away a lot better."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.