SAN DIEGO -- Brewers starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson stepped into the batter's box before he stepped onto the rubber Tuesday night. That, of course, did not bode well for the host Padres.
Milwaukee sent nine men to the plate in the top of the first inning, scoring five times and providing Nelson with all the support he needed in a 6-2 victory at Petco Park. The right-hander struck out eight over six-plus frames, while allowing two runs -- and he even chipped in offensively with an RBI single in the sixth.
"When you get a big lead and Jimmy puts up a zero in the first inning, it cements the game a little bit," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
Padres left-hander Clayton Richard allowed two runs on four consecutive one-out singles, before Brewers catcher Manny Pina broke things open with a two-run double into the left-field corner.
"They took advantage early," Richard said. "I didn't throw the ball terribly. It was a few pulled changeups, and that really hurt. It happened quick, and unfortunately it was too much of a hole to get out of."
Richard settled in to throw six innings, striking out seven, while not issuing a walk. The Padres clawed one back with Wil Myers' solo homer in the sixth -- his team-leading 11th of the season. And they scored another on Matt Szczur's RBI double an inning later.
Meanwhile, Brewers third baseman Eric Sogard continue to make up for lost time after missing 2016 because of a serious knee injury. Sogard, who was drafted by the Padres, banged out a career-high four hits.
"I'm definitely just grateful to be out there after missing last year,'' he said. "It puts a different perspective on the game."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Frenzied first: The Brewers' mashed during their five-run first, but the inning wasn't without a pair of Padres miscues. First, Hernan Perez lifted a looper to left that could have turned into a routine flyout. Szczur initially broke backward, before realizing too late the ball would fall in front of him. It marked the second of the Brewers' four consecutive singles. Five batters later, the fifth run scored on Sogard's chopper to short. Erick Aybar had vacated his position to cover the bag -- an apparent miscommunication on a pickoff attempt.
"I don't think any of our starters are strikeout pitchers," said Padres manager Andy Green. "They're going to be reliant on a good defense behind them to be successful on a consistent basis."
Nelson doesn't flinch: The Padres didn't threaten much against Nelson, but they did put men on the corners with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. He whiffed Aybar with a curveball, before getting Hunter Renfroe to hit a slow chopper in front of the plate. Nelson sprung off the hill and fired a strike to first, ending the threat. More >
"I didn't throw any changeups because the curveball was so good today,'' Nelson said. " I just kept going to it.''
"Part of the team aspect is to get as much as I can out of it to save our bullpen, because we're going to be playing the next day and the following day. If we can limit the bullpen innings pitched on a day like today, it's going to be a big help." -- Richard, on his second through sixth innings
Trailing by four runs late in Tuesday's game, the Padres ran into consecutive outs on the basepaths -- a surefire recipe to stifle a potential comeback bid.
First, Szczur was thrown out at the plate by several feet on a fly ball to right field. The out came after he ran a quarter of the way down the line, which prevented him from tagging up at the exact moment the ball hit Domingo Santana's glove.
Then, after Cory Spangenberg led off the top of the sixth with a single, he strayed too far from the base on a pitch in the dirt. Pina made a nice pick, and fired to first for the out.
"It obviously shouldn't happen, really at any level," Green said. "Sometimes you see what guys have inside their mind. They have aggression, a desire to make something happen. There's a switch you've got to flip in the baseball game when the situation calls for that type of aggression. "Those types of adjustments, we didn't make today. … There's a time to be aggressive on the ballfield and a time to be passive, reading the situation, playing the scoreboard."
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers:Matt Garza is on a roll and he hopes to continue it against the Padres, a team he owns a 3-0 career mark against. Garza, a right-hander, has produced three consecutive quality starts for the first time since 2015. First pitch is at 5:10 CT.
Padres:Jhoulys Chacin looks to continue his dominance at home this season when he gets the ball Wednesday night against Milwaukee. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. PT. The veteran right-hander has allowed one run on 10 hits in 20 innings at Petco Park this year.