By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- Andrew Cashner missed his opportunity to become a full-time member of a major league rotation due to injury last season.
It appears the San Diego Padres feel he's finally ready to take on that role.
Cashner's first task as a starter will be to help cool down the Milwaukee Brewers, who seek their fourth straight victory Saturday at Miller Park.
Injuries and inconsistent performances have forced San Diego manager Bud Black to use 12 different starting pitchers, with Cashner becoming the latest.
The highly-touted right-hander has made 27 relief appearances in 2012, but he'll be making his first start of the season after Eric Stults went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a strained left lat muscle.
Black said Cashner (3-3, 3.81 ERA) will become a regular in the rotation after building his endurance. Following Saturday's outing, he'll be sent to the minors to get accustomed to higher pitch counts.
"We'll see how it goes. Ideally, he'll pitch into the third inning (Saturday) and we'll see where his pitch count is," Black told the Padres' official website. "It's good for him. His mix of pitches will enable him to start moving forward if we think that's the way to go."
Cashner opened last season in the fifth spot in the Chicago Cubs' rotation, allowing one run in 5 1-3 innings while not earning a decision in his first and only career start against Arizona on April 5, 2011. He would miss the next five months with a strained rotator cuff, then made six appearances out of the bullpen before being traded to the Padres prior to 2012.
"I'm looking forward to it. It's exciting," Cashner said of starting again. "I'm excited about the opportunity to do something I've wanted to do. I didn't think it would be this year."
Cashner picked up the win in relief against Milwaukee on May 1, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in San Diego's 2-0 victory.
Carlos Quentin went 2 for 4 on Friday to increase his average to .484 in nine games since coming off the disabled list, but the Padres (19-40) fell 9-5 to the Brewers for their 14th loss in 17 games.
Milwaukee (27-31) got four homers - two from Corey Hart - en route to its eighth time win in 11 contests. Hart is batting .436 in his last 10 games versus San Diego.
"We've had so many things happen to make our lineup different almost every day that I've had to move around," Hart said. "Sometimes it's me leading off or hitting fourth. My focus has been to hit the ball wherever I am in the lineup.
"We're trying to win any way we can right now."
The Brewers, who have won six of the last eight meetings with the Padres at Miller Park, will look to stay hot with some help from starter Michael Fiers.
Fiers (1-1, 3.75) allowed four runs over five innings of a 6-5 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday in his second major league start, though he struck out five of the first 10 batters he faced and finished with eight strikeouts.
Updated June 9, 2012