Padres need Ross, Cashner to return to 2014 form

San Diego is 9-19 in games started by Nos. 2 and 3 starters

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

If the Padres are going to do anything this season, they have to start winning when Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner pitch.

After 14 starts each, the Nos. 2 and 3 starters in the Padres' rotation are a combined 5-15. More importantly, the Padres are 9-19 in games started by Cashner and Ross.

By contrast, the Padres are 9-6 in games started by James Shields. They are 6-6 in games started by Ian Kennedy and 4-6 in games started by Odrisamer Despaigne. They were 5-0 in games started by Brandon Morrow before he went on the disabled list on May 3 with an inflamed shoulder.

Now, it's not all the fault of Cashner and Ross. Fifteen of the 55 runs charged against Cashner are unearned. And the Padres have scored fewer than two runs in seven of his 14 starts.

But he has given up nine runs in the first inning and seven in the second. And opposing hitters are batting .310 against Cashner with two out and runners in scoring position. Overall, hitters are batting .280 against Cashner this season, with 13 homers in 14 starts, although all but two of those are solo shots.

Cashner is 2-8 with a 4.45 ERA. Ross is 3-7 with a 3.90 ERA.

With Ross, the problem is more one of command and control. He hasn't allowed a home run in his last nine starts. But he leads the National League with 42 walks.

Between them, they have a combined 4.07 ERA. Last year, their combined ERA was 2.71.

Cashner is allowing 10.1 hits and 1.4 homers per nine innings. Last season, he allowed 8.05 hits and 0.5 homers per nine innings.

Ross is averaging 9.5 hits and 4.7 walks per nine innings. Last season, he allowed 7.6 hits and 3.3 walks per game.

Both have also struggled more recently.

Cashner has a 8.18 ERA in his last four starts. Ross is coming off arguably his worst start of the season and has a 5.06 ERA in his last three starts.

FROM THE SCORECARD:
-- Second baseman Jedd Gyorko was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs for Triple-A El Paso on Friday night. In eight games since he was optioned to the Chihuahuas, Gyorko has hit .250 (8-for-32) with two homers and five RBIs.

-- Left-handed pitcher Cory Luebke on Friday night made his third one-inning appearance in a span of a week as he starts his rehab at Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore. He allowed a run on a hit. In three innings, Luebke has allowed one run on a hit with a strikeout. As a pitcher, Luebke has up to 30 days to spend on a rehab assignment before he has to be activated by the Padres.

-- Former Padre Xavier Nady was named the batting coach at Lake Elsinore on Saturday. He replaces Rod Barajas, who moved up to managing Double-A San Antonio when Missions manager Jamie Quirk moved up to El Paso to replace Pat Murphy. Nady was the second-round pick of the Padres in 2000. He hit .268 over a 12-year career, which included parts of five seasons with the Padres.

-- First baseman Yonder Alonso is 5-for-14 with three walks during a modest four-game hitting streak.