There are two ways to look at this game. One way would be to simply say this: Andrew Cashner was freaking awesome. The other way would be to pick at it. To say that the Pirates haven't really hit well lately, despite all the wins, and that AJ Burnett has been incredible for the Pirates and that he clearly means a lot to the team both on the field and in the locker room, but geez, why won't Clint Hurdle pull him at the first sign of trouble because it seems like when it goes south for him lately it happens in the blink of an eye.
I am inclined to lean towards the first explanation. One of the things that I've noticed, particularly this summer, is that fans (and I certainly include myself in this) have a tendency to praise and compliment players based entirely on the outcome of the game reletive to their favorite team. When Jason Grilli cut through the heart of the Tigers' lineup in a one-run game like he was Spark Anderson's ideal realization of a relief pitcher, it happened because Jason Grilli was awesome. When Grant Balfour did the same thing to the Pirates, well, happened because Andrew McCutchen's not clutch and Pedro Alvarez just swings at everything. Andrew Cashner was great in this game; he threw his fastball from 96-99 and he used a changeup and a wicked slider to get whiffs. The Padres wanted him in the Anthony Rizzo trade for a reason.
And yet, it's hard not to be frustrated, isn't it? The Cardinals lost tonight, so a Pirate win would've put them alone in first place. The way that Hurdle's consistently stuck with Burnett after he's run out of gas is really frustrating, because it seems so avoidable. Cashner was great, but was he 27-batter complete game great? Was he "Maddux" (that is, a complete game with less than 100 pitches) great?
Maybe what's frustrating is having the shoe on the other foot. For years, all that we Pirate fans have ever had to hope for is a great performance here or there that throws a wrench into some other team's post-season plans. Obviously you root against some teams more than others, but any win over a contender that creates a new stumbling block for them feels nice when you're buried in the standings. That's what the Padres did to the Pirates tonight. It happens, but that doesn't make it less frustrating.