NEW YORK -- Considering how ineffective he was all of last year and during his only previous start this season, there was actually reason to wonder if Trevor Cahill should have been encouraged by the four-plus innings he completed for the Braves during Tuesday night's 7-1 loss to the Mets at Citi Field.
Cahill was nearly perfect through the four innings he completed before his command wavered and second baseman Phil Gosselin committed a costly error during the decisive four-run fifth inning. But as the former All-Star pitcher walked away from yet another disappointing result, he shouldered much of the blame.
"Your goal every time out there is to put up a quality start," Cahill said. "I was a little bit better than last time, but at the same time, you'd like to at least get through six [innings]. Through the first four, I had the pitch count and I was going well enough that I was thinking I could go past that. But then I kind of let things unravel there."
Considering he had retired just seven of the 15 batters he had faced while making his only previous regular season start last week against the Marlins, Cahill certainly showed some improvement despite allowing the Mets four runs -- three earned -- and five hits over four innings.
Cahill retired 12 of the first 14 batters and totaled 49 pitches while recording seven ground-ball outs through the first four innings. But his promising outing faded when he walked Eric Campbell to begin the bottom of the fifth and then surrendered consecutive singles before Gosselin fumbled Jon Niese's routine double-play grounder.
"I thought he did a nice job," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "His job is to have the other team put the ball in play on the ground and he did that. A couple balls got through the infield and we don't make a play behind him on a double-play ball and that inning just kind of unravels on him."
Considering that the Braves made a $5.5 million commitment when they acquired Cahill from the D-backs on March 30, Gonzalez has no choice but to hope Tuesday's first four innings were an indication that things might soon turn around for the veteran hurler, who has posted a 6.56 ERA in the 19 starts he has made since the start of last season.
"I felt like I was in control the whole game when I was out of the windup a lot," Cahill said. "Then the leadoff guy got on [in the fifth] and I gave up a couple hits when I was out of the stretch. I just felt like my command went away after that."
Gosselin's inability to record a single out on Niese's grounder set the stage for Curtis Granderson to deliver a two-run single. Cahill's once-promising outing ended moments later with Juan Lagares' RBI single.
Cahill felt pitching out of the stretch might have had a greater effect on him than the lack of stamina he might have had while pitching into the fifth inning for the first time since completing five innings in a Minor League Spring Training game on April 5.
"I was going pretty well and then they got me out of the stretch and after that, it was just a struggle," Cahill said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.