D-backs gaining steam behind Cahill, starters

SAN DIEGO — Trevor Cahill and Paul Goldschmidt look right at home here.

Cahill grew up a few miles up I-5, in Oceanside. Goldschmidt just seems to hit it that far.

With Cahill and Goldschmidt providing the impetus, the Diamondbacks completed a series win over the Padres and crept another step closer to the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers with a 6-0 victory at Petco Park on Sunday.

Cahill’s second career shutout included four double-play grounders, Goldschmidt hit his second home run in as many games, and Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra also added home runs.

Frustrated by an inability to make up ground on the staggering Dodgers entering the weekend, the D-backs (25-29) won for the fifth time in their last eight games and closed to within eight games of the Dodgers, who are again without Matt Kemp. It is the closest the D-backs have been since May 12.

“Our goal is to try to win every series right now,” Gibson said. “When we get later in the season, you’ll know where you stand. That’s how you pick up momentum. That’s how you get on streaks.”

Cahill kept the starting rotation on a streak of its own, as he was the fourth straight D-backs starter to go at least seven innings. This is the first time that has happened this season. Ian Kennedy went 7 2/3 innings in San Francisco on Wednesday, and Wade Miley and Daniel Hudson went 7 1/3 and eight innings, respectively, in the first two games of the San Diego series.

“We’re on a good streak this time through the rotation. It’s what we’ve been looking for,” manager Kirk Gibson said.

“We’ve been wearing our bullpen out. Guys weren’t going as deep as they are capable of. They are all throwing the ball well this time through. We hope that continues. It’s a good trend. They’ve had plenty of rest. It is time for them to be able to go deep in the games. After the game (Saturday) night, I went right up to Cahill and said ‘You need to go eight innings tomorrow.'”

The request caught Cahill a little off guard.

“It kind of scared me a little bit. It was like, ‘Huh?'” Cahill said. “I was definitely focused.”

Cahill got ground ball after ground ball from his 109 pitches Sunday, getting double plays in the second, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. He got 18 groundball outs and struck out five while walking three. The D-backs had only two outfield putouts, and their offense came alive after the Padres botched a suicide-squeeze play in the last of the fifth inning.

Cahill’s other shutout was a 6-0 victory over Kansas City on Aug. 2, 2010, when he gave up three hits and walked four while with Oakland.

Like Gibson, he believes the rotation is ready to step forward.

“Our pitchers have been more efficient of late,” said Cahill, who’s 3-5 with a 3.45 ERA.

“Everybody has been throwing the ball a lot better. Pounding the (strike) zone.  Wade threw a lot of strikes the other day, and that kind of carries over. He set the bar high, and the other starting pitchers kind of use it like a competition almost. Kind of build off each other. The bullpen had to pick us up early on, and hopefully we can kind of take over right now. We are getting comfortable. Hopefully we can get in a rhythm and a groove and get deep into games.”

Goldschmidt picked on his two favorite targets as the D-backs split the six-game road trip, hitting his fourth career home run off San Francisco right-hander Tim Lincecum in a 4-2 victory Wednesday and hitting his fourth and fifth homers at Petco Park the last two days.

Goldschmidt’s career-best hitting streak reached 12 when he lined a homer over the right-field scoreboard off left-hander Eric Stults in the second inning to give Cahill a 1-0 lead. Goldschmidt’s homer the previous day landed in the second deck of the left- field seats in a 4-2 victory. He is hitting .491 with six doubles and four home runs during his streak. After hitting .193 in April, Goldschmidt hit .314 in May and is on an even better pace now.

“Mechanically, he’s better. He feels better. He’s more confident,” Gibson said. “He’s certainly striking the ball … he’s behind the ball now. You see it carrying more.

“He is not out on his front foot. He is not pulling off the ball. The bat is straight through the ball. The ball just takes off like that. Stay behind the ball and you use your strength. Everything comes together like it is supposed to be. His timing is better, so the ball comes off a little hotter.”