Trevor Cahill has endured a frustrating up-and-down season for the D-backs this year. The good news for him -- he is ending it on the upswing.
Cahill lost five of six starts in June with a 9.85 ERA and missed all of July and half of August on the disabled list nursing a right hip contusion. But the right-hander has rebounded impressively since his return.
In his last eight appearances since jumping off the DL on Aug. 17, Cahill is 5-0 with a 2.64 ERA. That stretch includes seven starts and a relief outing on Aug. 24 in which Cahill tossed four scoreless innings in an 18-inning affair against the Phillies to earn the win.
Cahill brings an 8-10 record and a 4.02 ERA into Thursday's series finale against the Padres at Petco Park. The righty will try to help the D-backs win for just the second time in their last seven tries in San Diego to earn a split in the four-game series against Padres left-hander Robbie Erlin
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson talked recently about Cahill's command issues at times this season.
"I think he was better when he came back [from the DL]," Gibson said. "We've talked a lot, he doesn't really know why it goes. He gets rolling and retires 13 in a row and he just loses it. For me, especially the last time it happened, I got him out of there quick, but it happens quick so you have to be really quick. Our hope is that he can avoid that in the future."
Erlin has his sights on finishing his debut on a high note. In eight starts, the 22-year-old left-hander has a 3-3 record and a 4.34 ERA, and he is coming off his best outing yet, shutting out the Dodgers over 7 2/3 innings and tying his career high with seven strikeouts on Friday.
Since getting recalled to the Padres from Triple-A Tucson in late August, Erlin is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in four starts. He will try to help the Padres finish off their home slate with a win, which would up their record at Petco Park to 45-36.
"He's made some strides ... him and [pitching coach Darren Balsley] have worked on things for him to become a finished Major League pitcher," said Padres manager Bud Black after Erlin's last start. "He has really concentrated on the fastball down. Tonight, he did a good job of throwing the ball down and away."
Padres: Venable notches hit, scores two runs in return
Will Venable was back at the top of the order for the Padres on Wednesday after missing two games with an abdominal injury.
After lining out and striking out in his first two at-bats, Venable his a single to center field in the Padres' four-run fifth inning. The center fielder finished 1-for-4 with two runs scored.
"There is some discomfort there, but he can play through it," Black said prior to Wednesday's game. "Will wants to get back on the field the last five games, he wants to help us win games."
Venable is hitting a career-high .268 on the season with career bests in hits (126), home runs (22), RBIs (53) and runs scored (64).
• The Padres set their starting rotation for the final three games of the season on Wednesday. San Diego will send Burch Smith, Eric Stults and Tyson Ross to the mound in the team's final three-game series in San Francisco.
D-backs: Kennedy gets payback on former team
The D-backs traded Ian Kennedy to the Padres prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and less than a month later they shelled him for six earned runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings in a 10-9 win on Aug. 27.
Kennedy finally got his payback on Wednesday. The 28-year-old right-hander tossed seven quality innings, allowing two earned runs on six hits, while walking one and striking out seven. Kennedy picked up his seventh win of the year and fourth since getting dealt to the Padres.
Kennedy struggled to a 3-8 record and a 5.23 ERA in 21 starts spanning 124 innings with the D-backs, but he improved to 4-2 with the Padres on Wednesday.
• Paul Goldschmidt extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a fourth-inning double off Kennedy. Goldschmidt is hitting .417 during the streak with seven doubles, five home runs and 17 RBIs. It is the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.
• The Padres hold the edge in the season series with an 11-7 record against the D-backs, including a 7-2 mark at Petco Park.
• The Padres need two wins in their final four games to match their win total from a year ago when they went 76-86.
Kevin Massoth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.