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PIT@SD: Cashner delivers solid start against the Bucs

Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner will start opposite the team that drafted him for the second time this season in Sunday's rubber game against the Cubs.

Cashner, who was dealt to the Padres in January 2012 in the deal that brought first baseman Anthony Rizzo to Chicago, has faced his former team three times in his career, with two relief appearances in 2012 and a May 1 start this year.

The 26-year-old's results against his former team have not been good, as the righty holds an 0-1 record and 9.00 ERA -- the highest against any opponent in his career -- in those three games.

Cashner has seen success with the Padres this season, though, posting an 8-8 record and a 3.73 ERA since moving into San Diego's starting rotation in late April.

"I feel like I've grown a lot as a pitcher and a lot as a person," Cashner said. "I was young, didn't really know what was going on, and I feel like I have a lot better of an idea of what I want to do out there on the mound.

"I've got a lot of really good friends over there. I came up with a lot of those guys, and I've got a lot of good friends that you'll never make again. It's good seeing them, but I wouldn't trade being in California for anything."

Cashner has pitched well his last two outings, but he took losses in each of them. He tossed seven innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits in a 4-2 loss to the Rockies on Aug. 14, and he gave up three runs (one earned) on five hits in seven innings in a 3-1 loss to the Pirates on Monday.

Chris Rusin will take the mound for the Cubs and face the Padres for the first time in his young career.

The 26-year-old left-hander has also pitched well his last two starts, despite taken the loss both times. Rusin threw six innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits in a 5-0 loss to the Reds on Aug. 14, and he lasted 5 2/3 innings Tuesday in his most recent time out, allowing two earned runs on 10 hits in a 4-2 loss to the Nationals.

Rusin said he needed to fall back on his other pitches after his two-seam fastball was ineffective Tuesday.

"I couldn't find my two-seam [fastball] today, but I was able to find some other pitches to get me out of jams, and that's just the way baseball is," Rusin said. "Just made a couple mistakes that cost me, but I was able to get out of some jams. I helped myself out there."

Cubs: 2013 return still in play for Baker
The Cubs are still holding out hope for a return this season from pitcher Scott Baker, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery.

In his rehab outing Friday with Class A Kane County, Baker gave up one run on four hits, including a solo home run, over four innings -- his longest outing so far.

"He's still working his way back," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Saturday. "He's been gaining a little bit of velocity and gaining a better feel as he goes. It's still a process for him. Yesterday was a step in the right direction.

"He's such a good worker and so dedicated to come back this year," Hoyer said. "Our hope is that he can come back."

Padres: Volquez designated; Brach called up
The Padres designated struggling right-hander Edinson Volquez for assignment Saturday and in a corresponding move recalled reliever Brad Brach from Triple-A Tucson.

Volquez started the season as the Padres' Opening Day starter, but he limped to a 6.01 ERA and 1.67 WHIP this season. His 95 earned runs allowed were tied for most in Major League Baseball entering Sunday.

The 30-year-old right-hander lasted just 2/3 of an inning Friday after allowing six runs (five earned) on five hits in the first inning of an eventual 8-6 San Diego win.

"At times we thought we had him on a roll," Padres manager Bud Black said. "There were times when we thought we had him where we needed him to be, but just the uneven-ness of his performance -- because the talent is there -- is frustrating."

Right-hander Tim Stauffer, who came on in relief of Volquez on Friday and threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings, could take Volquez's next scheduled start Wednesday.

• Carlos Quentin's injured right knee was feeling much better after some treatment, manager Bud Black said Saturday, but he did not do any running drills on the field.

"Because of the marked improvement -- how he's feeling -- we're a little bit more positive than we were a few days ago," Black said.

Quentin leads the Padres with an .855 OPS and was hitting .275 with 13 homers in 85 games this year.

Worth noting
• The Padres and Cubs have split the season series 3-3 entering Sunday.

• As is the case with just about every Padres pitcher, Cashner's numbers at Petco Park are much better than those on the road. He is 5-3 at home with a 2.38 ERA, compared with 3-5 with a 4.93 ERA on the road.

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