Cashner improves, but Marlins need innings-eater

Righty holds Reds to one run, but lasts just five-plus frames, further taxing the 'pen

Cashner improves, but Marlins need innings-eater

CINCINNATI -- There were a number of positives for Andrew Cashner to take out of Wednesday's no-decision in the Marlins' 3-2 loss to the Reds at Great American Ball Park. The right-hander kept the ball down more effectively, spun better breaking pitches and wiggled out of some jams.

But the bottom line is Miami's rotation needs to accumulate more innings, and going five-plus was a bit disappointing to the hard-throwing right-hander.

"I've just got to quit walking guys," Cashner said. "In the first inning, I had two walks. I thought I had a couple of pitches that could have gone the other way. I've just got to go out and stop the walks."

Cashner escapes the 1st

Cashner walked four on the night, one intentionally, and he struck out one. He also scattered five hits. Still, he exited after 93 pitches in the sixth inning after issuing a leadoff double to Eugenio Suarez and his team up a run.

Cashner was in line for his first win since being obtained by the Marlins from the Padres. But the Reds rallied behind Brandon Phillips' two-out, two-run double in the seventh to claim the one-run win.

"I thought he kept the ball down better and the slider was better," manager Don Mattingly said. "The last game, we saw a lot of balls belt line and more in the middle. He stayed on the edges tonight."

Now two games off the pace for the second National League Wild Card spot, the Marlins are digging themselves into a hole. They've also slipped a game behind the Pirates.

They're 5-10 in August, with four of those setbacks coming after the bullpen was unable to protect leads in the seventh inning and beyond. To take pressure off the bullpen, the rotation must do its part.

Cashner has made four starts and appeared in five games since joining the Marlins, and he's 0-2 with a 5.48 ERA.

Mattingly noted the bullpen has suffered because All-Star closer A.J. Ramos (right third finger) is on the disabled list and David Phelps moved into the rotation after being a vital part of the back end of the 'pen.

Ramos threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday, and he expects to be reinstated on Sunday.

"We've talked the other day about the bullpen, what's kind of happened with A.J. on the DL," Mattingly said. "With Phelpsy moving into the rotation, it just changes guys' roles. Guys go from being two-inning guys either late in the game or behind in the game to being seventh-inning guys or with the game on the line. It just changes roles. That's where we're at."

Cashner is a veteran with a track record, and the Marlins are hopeful he can give the club quality innings.

"I take some positives from [Wednesday], but definitely wish I could have worked deeper into the game," Cashner said. "It's part of the game."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.