The runner-up in last year's National League Rookie of the Year voting will take the mound on Saturday night in Phoenix, but it's his counterpart who has been stirring up widespread talk of his potential coming to fruition in recent weeks.
Andrew Cashner, winner of two of his last three starts, will look to help the Padres get back on track in the NL West and inch closer to .500 as they look to pull level in the weekend series against lefty Wade Miley and the D-backs.
Cashner came to the Padres from the Cubs in the deal that sent Anthony Rizzo to Chicago in December 2011. Since moving into the San Diego starting rotation on April 20, the 26-year-old right-hander is 3-2 with a 2.80 ERA in six starts. Last Sunday, he allowed three runs in 6 2/3 innings and struck out a season-high six batters as the Padres' offense matched its highest output of the season in a 13-4 win over the Nationals.
"He was efficient early, which set the tone for the game," Padres manager Bud Black said of Cashner. "I think that momentum carried him through the game. He wobbled very little."
The San Diego bats were not as kind to starter Eric Stults in the series opener on Friday night, as the offense could muster only three hits after the second inning on the way to a 5-2 loss. The Padres lost for just the third time in their last 11 games at Chase Field.
Miley hopes to keep the Padres in check for the second consecutive night and put a tough loss last Sunday behind him in the process. He struck out six Marlins over six innings but surrendered two runs in his final inning of work and was saddled with his third loss of the year when Arizona's ninth-inning rally came up short.
"I felt good out there," Miley said after taking the loss in Miami. "Just making pitches and throwing strikes. Just a couple of bad pitches cost you late in the game, especially in a game like that, 0-0, late in the game you've got to do a better job of holding guys, and I just didn't do that today."
Padres: Stults stung for tough-luck loss
After taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his previous outing, Stults was tagged for six hits and four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of work on Friday night. The 33-year-old left-hander saw his ERA jump to 4.22 and picked up his fourth loss.
• Left fielder Carlos Quentin went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in his return to the lineup after missing two games with a left knee injury he sustained while sliding in Monday's game in Colorado.
D-backs: Bell closes the door
Former Padre Heath Bell pitched a scoreless ninth against his former team for his seventh save of the year on Friday night. The 35-year-old right-hander has converted six of his last seven save opportunities.
• The D-backs went without a home run for the seventh straight game on Friday. They are 4-3 over that stretch.
• Miley is 1-3 with a 6.28 ERA in five career starts against the Padres.
• Cashner has received three runs or fewer in four of his six starts this season.