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Cashner solid, but 'pen allows walk-off slam

Starter caps June with quality start before Padres fall in ninth

MIAMI -- Tyson Ross stepped off the rubber to gather his thoughts.

The game was tied, and the bases were loaded. The Marlins had only one out in the bottom of the ninth. He needed a ground ball.

Jeff Mathis stepped into the box. Ross stepped back on the rubber and fired a two-seam fastball. Ball one.

With a five-man infield behind him, Ross was focused on inducing a ground ball. He tried to locate a four-seam fastball down and away.

"Too much plate," Ross said, after Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Marlins. "Bases loaded, down 1-0, had to come with a strike right there and just got too much plate."

Mathis sent Ross' fastball 420 feet from home plate to left field for a game-winning grand slam in Miami's win.

Padres manager Bud Black said Ross "sort of left it middle in and a little bit up. In that situation, guys are aggressive. Just a bad spot. Bad spot."

Ross had led off the ninth by walking Logan Morrison. Five fastballs, four balls. The right hander-described the free pass as a "dagger to start it off."

"Leadoff walk killed me," Ross said. "Can't happen in the ninth inning, or any inning, really."

After a mound visit from pitching coach Darren Balsley, Ross surrendered a single to Marcell Ozuna to put the winning run on second.

"The ball to Ozuna was just a breaking ball up in the zone," Black said.

Ross finally recorded an out against the next batter, getting a first-pitch flyout to right off the bat of Derek Dietrich. Morrison tagged up at second and advanced to third.

Ross then intentionally walked Greg Dobbs to load the bases for Mathis. Two pitches later, the game was over. Black liked the matchup.

"Tyson's been so good for us out of the 'pen," Black said. "You look at his numbers as a reliever. No player is invincible. Tyson had a rough one today."

Miami's ninth-inning rally overshadowed a duel between two power arms. Andrew Cashner and Nathan Eovaldi pitched six innings each, yielding only nine total hits.

Cashner gave up two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out three in his fifth quality start in five June outings.

"Today was probably the best I've thrown all year," Cashner said. "I had good command of my fastball and changeup."

Black added: "Cash pitched great. He really did."

Cashner began the game on a roll, needing just 39 pitches through the first three frames and carrying a no-hitter into the fourth.

But once Morrison broke up the no-no in that frame with a two-out bloop single, the hits kept coming.

Ozuna followed with a bloop single of his own to right, and Dietrich brought both runners home on a double to put Miami ahead, 2-0, after four.

Once he escaped the fourth, Cashner settled down for his final two frames, allowing two more hits while stranding Justin Ruggiano at third in the fifth.

Sunday's no-decision caps a stellar June for the right-hander, who finishes the month with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP in 35 2/3 innings.

"He continues to grow and mature as a starting pitcher," Black said. "We just didn't get him any run support."

While Cashner was turning in yet another solid June outing, the Padres did minimal damage against Eovaldi. The right-hander gave up four hits in six innings. Two came during the fourth.

After Chase Headley lined out to begin the fourth, San Diego put together its best offensive effort against Eovaldi with back-to-back singles from Kyle Blanks and Will Venable. Yasmani Grandal drew a two-out walk to load the bases.

After walking Grandal, Eovaldi fired two straight balls to Pedro Ciriaco, prompting a mound visit from Marlins pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. On the next pitch, Eovaldi retired Ciriaco on a 5-4 forceout to end the threat.

"Kid's got a live arm," Cashner said of his counterpart. "It's one of the best arms I've seen in a while. He was 98 consistently in the first. His ball's heavy. It's tough to see. He's going to be really good."

Once Eovaldi left the game, the Padres did their damage.

Trailing, 2-0, with a man on in the top of the seventh, Black decided to end Cashner's day and send in Carlos Quentin to pinch-hit. The decision paid off when Quentin bounced a first-pitch slider from Chad Qualls off the top of the left-center-field wall to tie the game.

The two-run shot was Quentin's third career pinch-hit home run and his first since hitting a solo shot for the White Sox in a 10-5 win against the Cubs on June 11, 2010.

"We got the big hit from Q to tie it up there in the seventh," Black said.

But the rally was for naught, as the Marlins handed the Padres their National League West-leading 24th loss on the road. San Diego is now two games under .500 for the first time since completing its three-game sweep of Atlanta on June 12.

"Our guys bounce back great," Black said. "I don't think there are any losses, I don't think, any more damning than another, but our guys were playing hard."

Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for
Read More: San Diego Padres, Andrew Cashner, Carlos Quentin