"He's an athlete," raved catcher Rene Rivera. "He can do it all."
Cashner unexpectedly walked in the third, snapping a string of 70 consecutive batters in which San Francisco starter Yusmeiro Petit didn't even go to a three-ball count.
He ripped a triple into the left-field corner in the third -- the first by a Major League pitcher this season -- zooming around the bases like a league-champion sprinter.
He stunned the Giants with a beautiful bunt single in San Diego's two-run sixth, giving him a 1.000 on-base percentage and four total bases on the night.
In the end, it was one of the rare times you'll ever see a starting pitcher rack up nearly as many total bases in one outing as he allows. Through the ninth, he had held the Giants to three total bases.
But Hunter Pence blasted a homer to start the ninth and Joe Panik followed with a single, chasing Cashner and finally catapulting the Giants ahead of Cashner's total base sum.
Desperate for a win to slice the Dodgers' National League West lead, Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco each scratched singles against the Padres' Kevin Quackenbush to close to within 3-2. But the Padres reliever induced a fly ball to left field from Brandon Crawford with the tying and go-ahead runs aboard.
"Man, those are varsity players for the Giants," Padres manager Bud Black said of Quackenbush threading his way through the ninth, a tension-filled inning keyed by him throwing a called third-strike past Brandon Belt after Sandoval's single.
Meanwhile, in flirting with his second consecutive home shutout, Cashner retired 15 consecutive Giants from the fourth through the eighth before surrendering the Pence homer.
Until then, he had allowed only three baserunners all evening, roadblocking each one of them from advancing to second. His night finally was finished when the rookie Panik followed Pence's homer with a sharp single, just the Giants' seventh total base recorded against the big Padres right-hander on the evening.
It was no way for the Giants to perform on a night on which they had a golden chance to gain a game in the NL West standings, given that the Dodgers earlier in the day lost a big lead in an 8-7 defeat at Wrigley Field.
But it was totally business as usual for Cashner.
Five days after he dominated the Phillies with a two-hit shutout, he threatened to replicate the feat.
And against Petit, who retired 46 consecutive batters during a particularly heady stretch in July and August, Cashner took his hacks with confidence.
"I told Darin [Balsley, Padres pitching coach] that if Cash was ever in the American League, he'd go crazy," Black said. "He enjoys pinch-running on the days he's not starting. He takes pride in his ability to be a complete player."
"Pretty cool," Cashner said of the triple. "When I was coming out of the box, I was thinking triple. Going to second base, I saw the ball hit the corner and told myself to keep going."
He probably could have made it into third standing up. Instead, knowing that he's always been taught that it's a whole lot easier to slide than it is to attempt to stop quick on a dime while in full-sprint mode, he executed a textbook slide that any Spring Training instructor could have used as an example.
"I didn't start pitching until my senior year of high school," Cashner said. "I played shortstop, center field, catcher. I loved to hit.
"I like to be a part of the nine guys."
So that was in the fifth inning. In the sixth, he deftly scanned the infield while he was at the plate and went to his short game.
"Pablo had been playing me in all night," he said.
Now, he noticed, Sandoval was back.
"In that situation, I thought if I could get a bunt into that area, I could get it to one of the guys who get paid to hit," Cashner said.
Bingo. The man who noted he practices bunting like that in batting practice looked like a man who puts a little elbow grease into it.
By that point, he also looked like he should be a guy who gets paid to hit, too.
"Pretty awesome," Black said.
"Outstanding," Rivera said.
"I don't want to go to the American League," he said, chuckling, when someone said good thing he's not marooned in the land of the designated hitter. "The American League is not for me."