In his third outing since coming off the disabled list, Cahill struck out eight Giants in 6 2/3 innings, only the second time in 10 starts he has gone beyond six frames. He threw 94 pitches and allowed one run.
"Felt like my stuff was the same throughout the game, so definitely the stamina was a lot better than it has been," Cahill said. "My last pitch, I felt, was as strong as the first pitch."
Manager Andy Green said Cahill's curveball wasn't as filthy as it has been at times, but he managed to succeed using high fastballs. Now healthy, Cahill has a 2.81 ERA since returning from a right shoulder strain, with 20 strikeouts in 16 innings.
"He was commanding all his pitches down in the zone," catcher Hector Sanchez said. "He's doing an amazing job.
"He goes out there to compete."
Sanchez gave Cahill an early lead Sunday, but not without Cahill's help. The Padres jumped on right-hander Jeff Samardzija for four runs in the first, three of them coming on Sanchez's second home run in as many games. Cahill took partial credit for his battery mate's blast, saying his bat was the one that provided the power.
From there, Cahill cruised, allowing with back-to-back doubles by Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford in the second inning. He narrowly avoided physical harm in the fifth, when Samardzija smacked a liner back at him, but Cahill managed to get his glove up in time to protect himself. The ball deflected to third baseman Cory Spangenberg, who threw Samardzija out at first.
"I didn't see it at all," Cahill said, "but it just hit my glove and, fortunately, didn't hit me. Pitching is scary sometimes."
Cahill exited after consecutive two-out hits in the seventh, but Craig Stammen induced a groundout from Hunter Pence to preserve Cahill's 0.72 ERA at Petco Park this season.
That success at home, ironically, could be a potential detractor to Cahill's trade value. Cahill has earned all four of his wins at his home ballpark, but away from San Diego, his ERA is 5.01.
"Most people are going to be comfortable in front of their home fans in their home ballpark," Green said. "I don't think there's anything much to read into that."
A free agent after the season, Cahill could provide a team in contention with a capable back-end starter. Come October, his history as a reliever could also prove contributory. He had a 2.97 ERA in 49 appearances out of the Cubs' bullpen a year ago.
Cahill has already been traded once in his career, going from Oakland to Arizona after the 2011 campaign. Since, he's been a part of five organizations across six seasons. The possibility of a sixth franchise in that time hasn't crossed his mind.
"You just go out there and try to put up zeros and go deep into the game and all that stuff," Cahill said. "I've been traded, released, all of the above, so I don't really look at it anymore."