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Padres rely on Cashner in opener with Mets

( – Following a successful return from the disabled list last weekend, Andrew Cashner aims for his first victory since mid-May on Friday evening as the San Diego Padres begin a three-game series with the New York Mets.

After landing on the disabled list following a May 13 outing due to a sore elbow, the right-handed Cashner returned to action on Saturday against Washington and hurled six innings of two-hit ball. He also walked one and struck out five in the scoreless outing, but recorded his second straight no- decision and carries a four-decision losing streak into this start.

Cashner is 2-5 with a 2.13 earned run average on the year and the Padres have been shut out in four of his five losses, and that tough luck continued against the Nats as they scored three runs after Cashner’s exit.

“I was impressed and very happy with the way he commanded the fastball,” San Diego manager Bud Black said of Cashner. “He was nipping the outside corner, the ball was running and I thought the couple handful of sliders that he threw were solid.”

The 27-year-old has never faced the Mets before as a starter, but has posted a 2.70 ERA in five appearances against them in relief.

The Padres were swept in three games by the Philadelphia Phillies to begin the week, plating just five runs in the set. They scored twice in the first inning of Thursday’s finale, but went cold from there in a 7-3 loss.

Chase Headley lined an RBI double to right field in the opening frame and another run scored on an error, but the Padres did not cross the plate again until Yasmani Grandal’s homer in the ninth inning.

“I’ve been in this game 35 years. I’ve seen it a lot. It’ll turn around,” Black told his club’s website of his team’s struggles on offense. “When you go through it, it’s tough. It’ll turn around.”

Starter Eric Stults allowed four runs in five innings to take the loss, San Diego’s eighth in 10 games.

The Mets are also struggling, having lost eight of their last nine. They dropped a 5-1 decision in 13 innings to Milwaukee on Thursday, leaving the bases loaded in the 11th frame before the Brewers scored four runs in the deciding inning.

Bobby Abreu knocked in the only run of the game for the Mets, while reliever Carlos Torres suffered the loss for allowing four runs in the 13th.

“We don’t get blown out by anybody,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “I don’t care where it is, I don’t care who we play. We just haven’t been able to come up with a hit when we needed a hit.

“This is a game where you’ve got to step up. This is what it’s about at this level. You’ve got to step up, you’ve got to make adjustments. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves.”

Collins’ Mets will try to get on track tonight behind 41-year-old veteran Bartolo Colon, who has not lost since May 6.

Colon carried a three-start winning streak into Saturday’s outing against the hosting San Francisco Giants, but did not factor into a 5-4 setback. The hurler yielded three runs — one earned — on eight hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings.

The righty’s current undefeated run has upped his season mark to 5-5 with a 4.31 ERA as he has allowed just five runs in his last four outings.

Colon is 1-2 in three previous meetings with the Padres, posting a 1.50 ERA.

The Mets have won five of their past six at home versus the Padres.

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