CLE@SD: Jackson's sac fly ties it in the ninth

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Padres are taking a long look this spring at Ryan Jackson, who is hoping to land a job as the team's reserve infielder.

So far, Jackson has impressed the staff with his defense and ability to move around the diamond. He has played third base, shortstop and second base.

He did something on Monday that might go a ways in helping him win a job, though it had nothing at all to do with his glove.

Jackson slugged a two-run home run in the second inning that helped the Padres to a 5-0 victory over the Rockies in Scottsdale.

"I wouldn't call myself a home run hitter by any means," Jackson said. "I've got good line drive pop and sometimes one will sneak over."

Jackson hit only three home runs in 510 plate appearances last season playing for the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate in Memphis. He hit 10 in 2012 in Memphis and 11 in '11 playing for Double-A Springfield.

Jackson is hitting .222 this spring in 18 at-bats with a double, triple, home run and four RBIs. Better still, he's found himself in 10 of the 13 games the team has played thus far.

"It's been awesome getting some good quality playing time," Jackson said. "I'm really enjoying working out hard out there and trying to get better."

Kennedy rebounds after slow start vs. A's

Outlook: Kennedy should see improved ERA with Padres

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Of the 67 pitches that Ian Kennedy threw on Tuesday, he was really only happy with one of them.

And that happened to be his final pitch against the A's at the Peoria Sports Complex.

Kennedy allowed four runs -- three in the first inning -- on eight hits in four innings and was long gone by the time the Padres rallied for a 6-5 victory.

"It started out rough, I was trying to get the fastball down ... it was a little up today. I'm just glad that we have those days to get ready for the season," Kennedy said after his third appearance of the spring.

The first three hitters of the game reached, as Kennedy allowed doubles to Coco Crisp and John Jaso, followed by a two-run home run to Jed Lowrie. Kennedy allowed four hits in that first inning and four more over the final three innings.

"I'm just glad it's not the regular season," Kennedy said.

This start essentially mirrored Kennedy's last start on March 6 against the Rangers, when he allowed four runs in the first inning before eventually retiring eight consecutive hitters.

"I feel really good. I just need a little more time to get the fastball down and get the changeup going. Usually, that's my best pitch," Kennedy said.

Kennedy, after allowing the double to Crisp in the first inning, allowed another double to Crisp that scored a run in the second inning. Finally, on his 67th and final pitch of the game, Kennedy got Crisp looking at a called third strike on a fastball down.

"That was the best fastball I threw all day. I was like, 'Let's get it down' Every one that was up was crushed," Kennedy said. "The last pitch finally came through and worked."

Cashner stays grounded during scoreless streak

Black and Cashner on starting rotation

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Andrew Cashner ran his scoreless-innings streak to nine on Monday when he tossed four shutout innings against the Rockies, though that's not the number that stood out most to his pitching coach, Darren Balsley.

Balsley was much more impressed with the nine groundouts Cashner got, as his two-seam fastball had the biggest bite it's had all spring.

"It's more of a contact type of pitch," Balsley said of the two-seamer. "The four-seamer is more of a swing-and-miss or a foul-ball type of pitch, whereas a good two-seamer can induce weak contact and balls put in play."

That's what happened on Monday, as Cashner got two groundouts in the first inning, three in the second inning, two more in the third, and then finally two in the fourth inning.

Cashner had to bear down in the third inning after opening the frame by allowing consecutive singles to Jordan Pacheco and Charlie Blackmon. He then got Michael Cuddyer to ground out before getting Carlos Gonzalez looking at a called third strike on a two-seamer. Troy Tulowitzki then grounded out to end the inning.

"Cash was really, really good yesterday," said Padres second baseman Ryan Jackson. "He looks ready [for Opening Day]."

Balsley said that Cashner's ability to command his two-seamer, more so than his four-seamer, rates as somewhat rare.

"The unique thing about Cash is he throws a two-seamer and four-seamer, but he seems to have better command of his two-seamer than his four," Balsley said. "Most guys are the other way around. That's why he was far more efficient last year throwing more strikes. He doesn't lose much velocity when he turns it loose."

Cashner needed 50 pitches to get through four innings. He then went to the bullpen to throw 10 more pitches to give him 60 for the day, as the Padres have their starters increasing their pitches in increments of 15 each successive start. Next time out, he'll likely throw 75 pitches.

Balsley sees no reason why the two-seamer, when used with his improving slider, can't help Cashner to have more efficient outings moving forward.

"It can help him stay in the game longer, that's great," Balsley said. "He's staying in the game longer. He may not punch out as many guys but his command with it is very good. The strikeouts might actually stay the same, but he might induce more weak contact moving forward."