SAN DIEGO -- Jett Bandy's tiebreaking RBI single in the top of the ninth inning sent the Brewers to a 3-1 victory in San Diego on Wednesday night -- and into first place in the National League Central.
"I don't like to use 'rebuilding team' anymore,'' Brewers starter Matt Garza said. "The organization went through that process, but these guys here want to win. They come in and put their work in and they are reaping the rewards right now.''
After Padres closer Brandon Maurer retired the first hitter in the ninth, the Brewers pounded out four consecutive hits. Travis Shaw sparked the rally with a double and scored two batters later when Bandy bounced a go-ahead chopper up the middle.
"I just got up there and tried not to do too much with a man on third and less than two outs,'' Bandy said. "Just get the run home, and luckily it turned into a hit."
The inning turned on Domingo Santana's 107 mph liner to shortstop. Erick Aybar appeared to be in position to double off Shaw at second base, but the ball caromed off his glove and into center field, allowing the inning to continue. The Brewers quickly capitalized.
"He expects himself to make that play," said Padres skipper Andy Green. "He's made plays like that his whole life. … He does a good job. He knows what he's doing. He just didn't come up with that ball."
The game became a battle of the bullpens after an early duel between starters Garza and Jhoulys Chacin, who each allowed one run. Garza tossed six innings and allowed four hits for Milwaukee, while striking out three in his fourth straight quality start.
Chacin was even better, pitching seven innings of two-hit ball and retiring 19 straight Brewers after allowing three of the first four hitters to reach base. He exited in the bottom of the seventh for pinch-hitter Ryan Schimpf, who struck out with the go-ahead run on second base in the form of Allen Cordoba.
"He's given us opportunities to win a lot of games," said Green. "We haven't necessarily gotten enough runs on the board to support him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Shaw and order: Before Chacin could find his groove, the Brewers jumped on him early. Eric Sogard opened the game by working a five-pitch walk, and scored on Shaw's RBI single. Chacin didn't allow another batter to reach base until Bandy's walk in the seventh, and he didn't surrender another hit.
"The only at-bat I'll get mad about was the leadoff guy," said Chacin. "I throw a strike and then four balls. The other guys, I attacked. Sometimes you just give up a base hit through the middle."
Hitting outside the Brox:Wil Myers ignited a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth with a seemingly innocuous infield single. Yangervis Solarte followed by hitting a soft bloop to shallow center field. Milwaukee's Keon Broxton charged, but the ball ricocheted off the heel of his glove and bounded backward as he stumbled forward. That afforded the speedy Myers enough time to score from first base.
"The run [Garza] gave up is on a play that Keon will tell you is a play he should make,'' Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.
"The old cliche is ignorance is bliss and it works wonders in these situations. Guys don't know what is going on and they just show up and play. I was on a team in 2008 [Tampa Bay] and that's how we were. A bunch of young guys with some veterans sprinkled in. We just showed up and played and did what these guys are doing.'' -- Garza on the surprising Brewers being in first place in the NL Central
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With their eighth win in 10 games, the Brewers moved ahead of the Cardinals for the top spot in the division, a place Milwaukee had not occupied alone Aug. 30, 2014, when they were in the middle of a brutal 1-8 road trip through San Diego, San Francisco and Chicago. That tough trip sent the Brewers stumbling to the finish and ultimately into rebuilding mode.
In his last four appearances, Maurer has given up more runs (nine) than he's recorded outs (eight). Green was quick to come to Maurer's defense after the game, noting his similar struggles last season, before he ultimately settled down.
"I don't look at his stuff and get concerned at all," said Green. "I also know that he went through something just like this last year, and now it's just a matter of righting the ship and coming back in the right direction. I know he's got the arm to do it."
A year ago, Maurer saw his ERA balloon to 7.39 on June 8. It dropped nearly three full runs by season's end.
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: A streaking Zach Davies gets the nod as he looks to continue his turnaround. After losing Davies' first three starts, the Brewers have won each of the past five times Davies has taken the mound. Length is still an issue as Davies has reached the sixth inning just twice in eight starts. First pitch is at 2:40 p.m. CT.
Padres: With Trevor Cahill battling a strained right shoulder, Jarred Cosart slots into his rotation spot for Thursday's series finale. Cosart has allowed one run over two starts this season, but he hasn't pitched since a May 7 rehab outing in Nashville. First pitch is slated for 12:40 p.m. PT.