Ubaldo Jimenez threw harder Thursday than in his last outing — at least for a while — and retired batters more consistently, as he allowed one run and four hits in the Indians' 9-4 win over the San Diego Padres.

But that doesn't mean that a steady upward curve in performance is assured. Problem areas remained in Jimenez's outing.

He faced four batters in the first inning, and all four looked at three-ball counts. Of the 16 batters he faced, Jimenez ran the count to three balls eight times, though he yielded only one run, four hits and a walk. He gave up a solo homer to Chase Headley on a 3-and-1 count and a double to John Baker on a full count.

"This was much better than the last time," Jimenez said. "I was more aggressive. But I still have a lot to improve on. I was behind in the count on too many batters."

The inefficiency showed up in his pitch count. Jimenez used 76 pitches and threw 43 for strikes, an unacceptable 56.6 percent.

"I don't think any pitcher at this level can survive if he's 3-and-1 or 3-and-2 all the time, but I'm not concerned with that," manager Manny Acta said. "I wanted to see better stuff than last time, and so I was happy to see that.