Two inefficient innings had put the flamethrowing right-hander in a bind. His pitch count was rising, and he was fighting to keep his team within striking distance. It was precisely the situation Cashner had faced last Wednesday in San Francisco, when he turned in his shortest outing in nearly three years.
The results on Tuesday night followed a different script.
Cashner put forth one of the grittiest efforts by a Padres pitcher this season. He needed 57 pitches to get through the first two innings, but faced the minimum after a leadoff single in the third as he finised an impressive six innings. The gutty effort allowed the Padres to rally and get him a much-deserved victory.
"He kept competing, finally found where he was," said Padres skipper Andy Green. "The last three innings was as good as he's been all year."
Cashner's night couldn't have started much worse. He allowed a leadoff homer to Rockies center fielder Charlie Blackmon and then loaded the bases before recording an out.
Two runs scored in the frame, and another crossed the dish in the second, but Cashner found his groove quickly after that.
"I don't know how he was able to stay in the game," said Blackmon. "That's not the best I've seen him, but that's probably the best I've seen someone come back after a rough first inning."
Said Cashner: "I had a lot of traffic early, but I was able to make some adjustments, and in the third inning, kind of figured some things out."
Cashner allowed a leadoff single to Nolan Arenado in the third, before shortstop Alexei Ramirez made a fantastic diving play to get Arenado at second base on a forceout. Gerardo Parra, who reached on the play, attempted to steal second, but was called out after a replay review.
That may have been the turning point. He allowed only one baserunner after that -- a fourth-inning walk, which was erased when DJ LeMahieu bounced into a double play.
"He settled in nicely," Green said. "For me, that's probably what I'm most ecstatic about, was the way he battled."
Cashner's outing came in stark contrast to his outing in San Francisco -- not that Cashner was too worried about that start. He put it behind him straightaway, much like he'll do with this one.
"You never use your last start as motivation; you forget about it," Cashner said. "Today's over with, and it's on to the Mets on Sunday. Can't really look back -- you've just got to keep looking forward, good or bad."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.