SAN DIEGO -- After Trevor Cahill got -- what else? -- three ground-ball outs in the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon, he had his first shutout of the season and the Diamondbacks had what feels like their first good turn through the rotation all season.
Cahill's six-hit gem at Petco Park led the way to a 6-0 win over the San Diego Padres, giving the Diamondbacks a series win and what feels like a little momentum as they head back to Phoenix to begin a six-game homestand.
So what if the Diamondbacks were facing two of the National League's least intimidating offenses in two of baseball's toughest parks in which to hit? This is the kind of starting pitching they thought they were going to have all year.
In the past five games, Diamondbacks starters have combined for 36 1/3 innings, eight walks, 26 strikeouts and a 1.98 ERA. Before this run, they had a 4.41 ERA, ranking as one of the least effective starting rotations in the National League.
"We've been wearing our bullpen out and guys haven't been going as deep as they're capable of," Gibson said. "They all threw the ball well this time through. We hope that continues. It's a good trend."
Cahill said he used his full array of pitches, mixing his change-up and curveball among his trademark two-seam fastball to throw the second shutout of his career.
Not unlike some of his rotation mates, Cahill has struggled to string together good starts this season. The Diamondbacks hope this is the start of a streak for the pitcher they considered their key addition in the off-season.
"I felt pretty good," he said. "My defense helped me out a lot and I was fortunate enough to get some ground balls at guys for double plays. I definitely felt pretty good. I just tried to attack the zone. They'd been aggressive all series and I was trying to take advantage of that."
Cahill, who threw 109 pitches, got double plays in the second, sixth, seventh and eighth to thwart potential Padres rallies. Three of the double plays came on sinkerballs.
"That's when you know you're seeing Trevor Cahill at his best," Gibson said.
The Diamondbacks thought they were constructing one of the league's better rotations when they got Cahill in a trade with the Oakland A's in December. Putting him alongside Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, they expected starting pitching to be the least of their concerns.
Instead, Kennedy has struggled and Hudson got hurt, and rookie lefty Wade Miley surprisingly has been their most effective starter.
"I think everybody's been throwing the ball a lot better," Cahill said. "Just kind of pounding the zone. Wade threw a lot of strikes the other day. I think that kind of carries over. He's set the bar high and the other starting pitchers use it as like a competition, almost, and try to build off each other."
Moreover, the Diamondbacks finally seem to have a few hitters swinging well at the same time, including Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt and Gerardo Parra, all of whom homered.
"It's just a better feeling when you score," Gibson said. "If you don't hit, you don't look good.
"Of course you'd like to sweep, but if you can win (the series) that's a positive step in the right direction. That's how you pick up momentum. That's how you get on streaks."
View from the pressbox
It was just five days ago that we were wondering if the Diamondbacks were going to be disappointed by Trevor Cahill this season. Through his first 10 starts, he'd struggled to pitch deep into games and seemed to find ways to lose them, not the other way around. Sunday's start was the kind of outing they probably expected when they acquired him in December. We'll see if he can build on it and string together a few good ones, something he's been unable to do this year.
'A great moment': Standing on deck in the seventh inning, Gerardo Parra made eye contact with an elderly woman sitting near the Diamondbacks dugout.
"She looked at me and said, 'Let's go,'" Parra said. "I said, 'Touch my bat. If I get a base hit, I'll give it to you.'"
Parra did more than that. He crushed an opposite-field home run to give the Diamondbacks a 6-0 lead. When he got back to the dugout, he made sure the woman, whom he guessed was at least 90 years old, got the bat.
Parra was asked if she was a Diamondbacks fan.
"I think now she is," he said.
Big blasts: Parra's shot was one of three homers the Diamondbacks hit on Sunday, just the second time this season they went deep three times.
"That was good," manager Kirk Gibson said. "We haven't really been hitting home runs. I can't think of the last time we hit a two-run home run, and today we hit two of them."
The Diamondbacks hadn't hit a homer with a runner on since May 26, when John McDonald hit a three-run shot against the Brewers.
Scary directive: Gibson said that after Saturday's game, he approached Sunday's starter, Trevor Cahill, in the clubhouse and gave him orders.
"You need to go eight innings tomorrow," Gibson told him.
How did Cahill respond?
"You know, he's Trevor," Gibson said. "He said, 'OK.'"
Cahill laughed after he one-upped Gibson's request by throwing a shutout on Sunday.
"I was kind of caught off guard," Cahill said. "It kind of scared me a little bit. ... I think he wanted to see how I responded. It was one of those things that caught me so off guard. I was like, huh?"
Asked why he hadn't told Cahill to throw eight innings sooner, Gibson said, "Good question. You got me on that one. I knew you could bring it back on me somehow. I take full responsibility on that one."