Cahill shows improvement, settles down after homer

Right-hander goes six innings after giving up three-run shot in the first

Cahill shows improvement, settles down after homer

PHILADELPHIA -- Given that he was once an All-Star pitcher, Atlanta right-hander Trevor Cahill might not be comfortable with the fact that his completion of six innings is now viewed as progress.

Cahill certainly showed some improvement as he tossed six innings during Sunday afternoon's 5-4 loss to the Phillies. But the 27-year-old surrendered a three-run home run to Ryan Howard in the first inning and allowed Ben Revere a go-ahead triple in the fifth inning.

"Any time you lose a ballgame, it's tough," said Cahill, who allowed four runs over six innings. "But it was nice to go out there and at least go six innings and not feel like you're a burden on the bullpen. The best part about it was I was able to get up six times. One pitch hurt me in the first inning, but I was able to kind of bounce back after that."

After wasting a 2-0 first-inning lead by leaving a few too many pitches up in the zone, Cahill found a groove and kept the Phillies relatively silent until the fifth inning. This marked just the seventh time in his past 20 starts that he completed at least six innings.

"I thought Cahill did okay. He left a changeup up in the zone to Ryan Howard after getting him 0-2," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Ryan didn't chase those changeups in the dirt, and [Cahill] just left that last changeup up in the zone too much."

Cahill has produced a 6.52 ERA over the 20 starts he has made since the start of the 2014 season. The Braves acquired him from the D-backs at the end of Spring Training with the understanding that they were taking a chance on his ability to regain his previous form.

The Braves remain hopeful that pitching coach Roger McDowell will be a positive influence on Cahill, who recorded just seven outs in his first start this season.

"I think as we spend some more time together, we'll be able to communicate a little better," Cahill said about McDowell.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.