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COL@SD: Cashner fans five, holds Rockies to one run

The Padres will turn to their ace, Andrew Cashner, on Saturday in the third game of a four-game series against the Nationals.

What they would like from Cashner is some quality, shut-down innings. What they'll certainly take is innings in general, as Padres' relievers have been taxed of late and could stand a long outing by a starter.

Going into Friday's game, the Padres had 16 of their first 23 games decided by two runs or fewer.

"It's been all year, the frequency but also the usage and the type of [close] games we've played in," said Padres manager Bud Black. "The bullpen has been used [a lot] in the early part of the season."

So much so that the Padres opted to option a position player -- infielder/outfielder Tommy Medica -- to Triple-A to get another arm for reinforcements, as reliever Kevin Quackenbush joined the team Friday.

In Cashner, the Padres figure to get innings. The right-hander has worked at least six innings in each of his first five starts and has pitched into the eighth inning on two occasions.

The Nationals will turn to right-hander Tanner Roark, who didn't allow a run in 6 2/3 innings against the Angels on Monday.

Los Angeles had opportunities to score against Roark in the second and third innings, but couldn't send anyone home. In the second, the Angels had the bases loaded with two outs, but starting pitcher Garrett Richards struck out to end the threat.

An inning later, Los Angeles had runners on first and second with nobody out, but Albert Pujols hit into a double play, and a flyout ended the inning.

"I felt like first-pitch strikes was the big thing for me tonight," Roark said after the game. "The sinker was working well tonight. I kept attacking."

Nationals: Better production with RISP
Going into Friday's action, the Nationals were riding a 6-for-49 stretch with runners in scoring position. But manager Matt Williams believes the offense will turn around.

"I'm happy with 49 opportunities. It comes and it goes in cycles," Williams said. "There are ebbs and flows to this game. My [hope] is that we continue to create the opportunity to drive a run in. It will happen. I'm not concerned about that."

The Nationals were able to come through on Friday against the Padres, going 7-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Padres: More left field for Cashner?
A day after he became the first Padres pitcher in club history to appear as a position player, Cashner was still beaming.

This didn't surprise Black, who gets a daily reminder from Cashner that he's ready and willing to appear as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner or, as was the case Thursday, the outfield.

"He lets me know every day that he's ready," Black said.

Cashner played in left field for one out in the 11th inning and then was replaced by Medica.

The Padres are down two position players after Medica was optioned and Seth Smith was nursing a strained right groin that he injured in left field Thursday.

Could Cashner, who is regarded as one of the top athletes on the team, make another appearance in the field? Black wouldn't rule it out.

Worth noting
• Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia continues to be a two-strike threat. Going into Friday's game, Denorfia had a .417/.432/.667 (15-for-36) line with two doubles, two triples and a home run with two strikes. He's the Major League leader in batting average and slugging percentage hitting with two strikes. The Major League average with two strikes is .174/.245/.262. Comments