Shaky D behind Cashner adds to struggles

Shaky D behind Cashner adds to struggles

PHOENIX -- A hard-luck pitcher usually receives such a tag because of a lack of run support or because he was slightly bested by his counterpart on an otherwise quite productive day.

The Padres' Andrew Cashner is experiencing another version.

Opponents have scored 19 unearned runs against Cashner this season and have scored an unearned run in 10 of his 15 starts after the D-backs on Sunday tallied four unearned runs to hand San Diego a 7-2 loss at Chase Field.

All seven runs came in the second inning, when third baseman Will Middlebrooks made a poor throw and shortstop Clint Barmes let a grounder right at him get past.

"If a couple different plays are made it's a different inning for sure," Cashner said.

The Padres have committed 15 errors behind Cashner and the pitcher has committed one himself. Conversely, Padres opponents committed just three errors in the 10 Cashner starts in which the Padres made an error, and seven overall in games Cashner pitched.

The right-hander clearly is on the wrong side of the equation.

"You have to make the plays," Padres interim manager Pat Murphy said. "Cash gave up a few free bases but at that point then you have to make the plays behind him and limit the damage. We didn't limit the damage."

With all that said, Cashner hasn't pitched great of late. His ERA climbed from 2.89 to 4.35 in the past month after he gave up 25 earned runs in 33 innings.

"You make your own breaks," said Cashner, who lasted a season-low four innings and fell to 2-9. "I have to stop the bleeding at some point. It's one of the toughest stretches I've been through for sure. ... You just have to show up, put it behind you and keep going forward."

Three of the four D-backs hits and each of Cashner's free passes, via two walks and a hit batter, came in the second.

After Middlebrooks' throwing error on a play that should have at least cut down a runner at the plate if not been a 5-4-3, inning-ending double play, Cashner hit D-backs pitcher Jeremy Hellickson on a full-count pitch to force in another run. A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt then sandwiched singles against a drawn-in infield around Barmes' error, on which two runs scored.

"Cash is a guy who's going through a struggle of, 'I haven't got a lot of run support at times,' and then if the defense breaks down, it's tough," Murphy said. "Unless you're walking in his shoes, it's really tough to blame him for being a young pitcher and doing that. But it has to change. He knows it himself. He'd be the first to tell you: 'I pitched well but I have to be better; I have to get better mentally in those situations when things aren't going well.'"

The big second inning was all the D-backs needed behind Hellickson. It also was all they got, as Cashner allowed only one more hit and relievers Frank Garces, Shawn Kelley and Joaquin Benoit did not allow a base runner in four combined innings.

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.