PHOENIX -- The D-backs' advice for Trevor Cahill is simple, and it dates back to Spring Training: Work fast and think less.
The fastball command would come, they believed, and his secondary pitches would not be that far behind.
A few mechanical tweaks couldn't hurt, either.
But Cahill struggled again on Sunday, this time in an 8-6 loss to the Dodgers, fueling questions about his consistency and spot in the starting rotation.
What do the D-backs do with Cahill, a player owed close to $20 million through 2015? Here's something else to consider: He gave up five runs in his four-plus innings, but he also struck out eight hitters.
Cahill's "stuff" is there. But is the potential enough? The Dodgers' three-game sweep dropped the D-backs to 4-11.
"We'll have some conversations, as we always do," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "We are not where we want to be."
It was an ominous start for Cahill, who walked Dee Gordon on five pitches to open the game. He rebounded to strike out Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. Adrian Gonzalez flied out to left field for the third out of the frame, but the Dodgers' first baseman would get his revenge.
Matt Kemp's monstrous home run off the wall of the bullpen in left field to lead off the second inning had the potential to send Cahill into a tailspin, but the right-hander retired the next three batters, two by strikeout.
Cahill would not be as fortunate in the third inning. Ramirez drove home Gordon for the Dodgers' second run and Gonzalez followed with a three-run home run, his fourth home run in four games, to push Los Angeles ahead, 5-0.
"It was just the walks that killed me," Cahill said. "I made a mistake and Adrian has been swinging it good this year. I kind of got away from the game plan with him and left a pitch down and in and right in the sweet spot."
Randall Delgado began warming up in the bullpen in the eventful third inning but would not get into the game until Cahill walked Ramirez and gave up a double to Gonzalez in the fifth inning. In the end, Cahill was charged with seven runs (six earned) on five hits with five walks in four innings.
"It's tough. Our team is struggling and you want to be the guy," he said. "I've never struggled this bad and it just that much harder when it's the start of the year. I'm just trying not to think about it, I guess."
Consider this: Cahill has pitched four innings or fewer in three of his four starts this season.
"I'm just going out there and doing the best I can," Cahill said. "It's all I can do. Whatever happens, happens."
But the D-backs did not go down easily. Aaron Hill and Paul Goldschmidt each drove in a run in the third inning off Dodgers starter Dan Haren and Eric Chavez added a solo home run to cut the Dodgers' lead to 5-3.
As for Delgado, Ramirez's walk and Gonzalez's double to lead off the fifth ended his day, and the Dodgers padded their lead on Andre Ethier's RBI groundout and a run-scoring error by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt's error on Juan Uribe's grounder.
Uribe hit his first homer of the season in the seventh, a solo shot, to make the score 8-3, but Mark Trumbo hit his sixth home run a half-inning later, a three-run shot to cut the Dodgers' lead to two.
"We all know [Cahill] has good stuff but he has been inconsistent," Gibson said. "Everybody is frustrated and we understand. The team battled today. We got a lot of fight let in them and that part's encouraging."
Gibson was asked what concerns him the most about the team's slow start to the season.
"The starting pitching. Is there a question about that?" he said. "We got five innings out of the guy today, four? That's tough. If you would want one thing to go well it would be to get innings out of your starting pitchers. We've had way too many short outings."