Trevor Cahill knows how to give his outfielders a little time to relax in the field.
Primarily using the sinkerchangeup repertoire that helped him win 18 games for Oakland in 2010, Cahill kept the ball on the ground inning after inning to help the Diamondbacks run their winning streak to three games with a 5-1 victory over Washington in his first career start against the Nationals on Tuesday.
"I think I made more quality pitches than any other start. I felt good," said Cahill, 2-2 with a 3.13 ERA.
Cahill recorded 15 outs by ground ball, including a double-play ball in the sixth inning that helped him preserve a 2-0 lead at a most crucial time. After Ian Desmond and Steve Lombardozzi singled to open the Washington sixth, the third and four Nationals hits, Cahill got Rick Ankiel to ground into a double play and Adam LaRoche to bounce out to second. Four pitches, three outs, threat over.
LaRoche, a former D-back, flew out to left fielder Jason Kubel in the fourth inning, the only put-out by a D-back outfielder. Cahill, who gave up six hits and a run, also got five strikeouts and one pop-out on the infield. He struck out the side in the second after his only walk, to Jayson Werth leading off the inning.
"When you are able to throw your pitches where you want them, it really helps. He's got a pretty good tool box to use. He got some early swings and stayed in control of the game," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said.
Cahill, acquired in the offseason from the A's for a package that included fellow Tuesday winner Jarrod Parker, threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 28 batters he faced. He threw first-pitch strikes to 13 consecutive batters, starting in the last of the third inning and ending on LaRoche's groundout to end the sixth.
"He's a lot of fun to play behind," said D-backs shortstop John McDonald, who was the middleman on Ankiel's double-play ball. "You're always expecting the ball to be hit to you."
McDonald makes most of rare start
--McDonald singled twice and was intentionally walked in four plate appearances Tuesday, giving him six hits in his last 13 at-bats. "It's just working in batting practice and staying confident," McDonald said. McDonald had a big part in two rallies, breaking a scoreless tie with his RBI single to left field in the fifth inning and singling and scoring in a two-run sixth. It was McDonald's sixth start of the season, his first since April 23. "You don't focus on the numbers, you focus on your at-bats," he said.
--RF Justin Upton and CF Gerardo Parra each stole second base off C Wilson Ramos to give the D-backs 23 stolen bases, second in the majors to Oakland's 25. Upton has stolen second base each of the last three games, and his steal in the sixth inning set up an easy run when C Miguel Montero followed with a double. Parra has eight stolen bases, tied for fourth in the major leagues. Upton has four.
--Cahill has been terrific on the road, making all three of his quality starts this season away from his new home in Chase Field. He has given up one run in each of his three road starts -- in San Diego, Colorado and Washington -- and has a 1.31 ERA in 20 23 innings. He has given up 12 hits and has 16 strikeouts against those three.
--LF Jason Kubel has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games after doubling and singling in five at-bats Tuesday. Kubel is hitting .404 with five doubles and three home runs during the run. He returned to the lineup after being a late scratch Monday because of illness.
--RHP Daniel Hudson (right shoulder impingement) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 19. He won't throw his first bullpen session until May 6.
--CF Young (small tear in right shoulder ligament) went on the 15-day disabled list April 18. He took 35 swings off a batting tee at the D-backs' minor league facility on April 30. No return date has been set.
--INF Geoff Blum (strained oblique muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 17 and was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 30.
--SS Stephen Drew (right ankle surgery in July 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He began playing games in extended spring training April 12, but the timetable for his return is uncertain.
--RHP Takashi Saito (strained right calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 1. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Visalia on April 19 but suffered a setback while taking fielding practice, extending his stay on the disabled list indefinitely.