After throwing his second one-hitter in a span of five starts, the big Texan is the leading candidate to end that drought.
"That's one of my goals. I definitely want a no-hitter," Cashner said after allowing just one single and striking out 11 in a 6-0 victory against the Detroit Tigers on Friday night. "I don't think there's any reason why I can't build off this. When you get late in a game and your pitch count's high, you've really got to bear down and grind through. I think this will build toward something down the road."
Cashner took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Rajai Davis hit a one-out flare single into center field, just past the glove of outstretched second baseman Jedd Gyorko. Davis stole second and third, and Ian Kinsler walked before Miguel Cabrera, the AL MVP in 2012 and 2013, hit into a double play.
Cashner ended his remarkable outing by striking out Cabrera swinging, on a 95-mph fastball.
On Sept. 16 at Pittsburgh, the right-hander carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and faced the minimum 27 batters in a one-hitter. He retired his first 18 batters before Jose Tabata grounded a clean single into right field leading off the seventh.
Cashner said Friday night's one-hitter meant more.
"Just with the guys in their lineup, it was a lot bigger game. They've got a heck of a team over there. A lot of guys can hit the ball out of the park."
Chase Headley hit a two-run homer and finished with three RBIs.
Cashner (1-1) retired 14 in a row before allowing the single. He walked two.
"I felt as good as I've felt in a while," he said. `'I'm conditioned to run the bases and to be a complete ballplayer."
Manager Bud Black said Cashner was so good because of "tremendous movement with command" of his fastball. That was a well-pitched game. Well-pitched. As good as you're going to see."
Five of his strikeouts were looking, including all three in the third, when he caught pitcher Rick Porcello, Davis and Kinsler looking at strike three.
"He was just beating guys with his velocity. They just couldn't get the head out front," Black said. "But when you have a pitcher hitting the glove for called third strikes, and you see the look on the hitters, and I saw that early on, I knew he had a good feel for his fastball."
Dating to Aug. 19, Cashner has allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine straight starts for an ERA of 0.96.
"He pitched outstanding," said Brad Ausmus, who worked in San Diego's front office before being hired as Detroit's manager in early November. "He's always been a hard thrower. He located extremely well. His slider was extremely effective, his changeup. I know he's not a household name, but I know what h is capable of."
The Padres hit Porcello hard, collecting 10 hits in his 6 1/3 innings. He left after Cashner singled.
The Padres were onto Porcello from the start. Everth Cabrera hit a leadoff single, advanced on two groundouts and scored on Gyorko's triple. The ball hit the heel of right fielder Don Kelly's glove and hit the ground as Kelly slammed headfirst into the wall. After being checked by a trainer, Kelly stayed in the game.
Headley then doubled into the left-center gap to bring in Gyorko.
Headley homered to right on a 2-2 slider from Porcello with one out in the sixth, his first. It was estimated at 385 feet. Seth Smith was aboard on a leadoff double.
Porcello (1-1) allowed five runs and struck out five.
"There were a couple of balls up in the zone that the Padres hitters took advantage of," Ausmus said. "But he kept us in the game. It's really more about the way Cashner pitched more than anything else."
Padres CF Cameron Maybin, who ruptured his left biceps tendon making a diving catch in a spring game on March 2, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A El Paso. Manager Bud Black said he'd like Maybin to get more than 20 at-bats during the assignment. "Right now he's restarting his spring training," Black said. "He's in baseball shape. Now we've got to get him in baseball-ready shape." ... Black said pitcher Josh Johnson, who's also on the DL, still has soreness in his forearm. ... Black said LF Carlos Quentin, on the DL with a bone bruise in his left knee, is working in the weight room and hitting in the indoor batting cage. Black said Quentin is getting close to hitting on the field. ... The series continues Saturday night when Tigers RHP Justin Verlander (0-1, 2.57 ERA) is scheduled to face RHP Ian Kennedy (1-1, 3.27). Verlander was one of several top players the Padres could have taken with the first pick in the 2004 amateur draft. Instead, they took local SS Matt Bush, who was a bust. Verlander went to the Tigers with the second overall pick.