SAN DIEGO -- On Thursday, the Brewers enjoyed their first day alone atop the National League Central since August 2014. Eric Sogard made sure they stayed there.
Sogard -- who torched the Padres for nine hits in the four-game series at Petco Park -- had four more knocks on Thursday, including the go-ahead double in the top of the seventh inning that helped send Milwaukee to a 4-2 victory.
Sogard's decisive double came after an unrelenting battle with Padres reliever Ryan Buchter in which he fouled off six two-strike offerings. On the 12th pitch of the at-bat, Buchter left a fastball over the plate, and Sogard drove it over center fielder Manuel Margot, plating two runs.
"I tried to stay relaxed, but literally I was feeling it toward the end," Sogard said. "I was definitely getting a bit exhausted. I knew I had to put it in play soon or he would have the upper hand. It was good to get the job done in that at-bat. This team continues to fight, so it's just neat to be a part of it."
That made a winner out of Brewers right-hander Zach Davies, who allowed only a Hunter Renfroe homer and a fifth-inning double-play grounder that scored the Padres' second run. Davies surrendered five hits and struck out three.
"I got ahead of guys a lot better today," Davies said. "I was able to throw to contact a lot more. A couple of pitches hurt, but it was a lot better throughout the game today, as opposed to the past couple of games."
Padres starter Jarred Cosart was equally sharp over five innings in his first start since returning from a right hamstring strain. He was especially effective working out of trouble -- a bugaboo of his in the past. The leadoff man reached in four of five innings against Cosart, but he allowed just one run on five hits (three courtesy of Sogard).
"It's been a long time," said Cosart, who last pitched in a May 7 rehab outing for Triple-A El Paso. "It was good to be back out there in a Major League game, a much more competitive atmosphere. ... Sure enough, the inning I executed the least was the inning I gave up the run. That's how baseball works."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Hunter Renf-row: Renfroe's second-inning homer landed in the first row of seats in left field -- three days after his walk-off blast also landed there. The ball exited the yard in a hurry, and Renfroe's 17-degree launch angle was the lowest by a Padres hitter on a home run this season. The ball left Renfroe's bat at 110.1 mph, the hardest-hit ball of his Major League career, according to Statcast™. Only Wil Myers has a higher exit velocity on a home run among Friars hitters this season.
"It was really just a line drive," Renfroe said. "I thought it might be a double, but it just happened to sneak over the fence."
Caught looking: The Padres put men on the corners with two outs in the ninth against Brewers closer Corey Knebel, prompting Padres skipper Andy Green to call on pinch-hitter Austin Hedges as the potential winning run. Knebel fell behind 3-0, and he came back with three straight fastballs. Hedges swung through the first two and fouled the third straight back. With the count full, Knebel twisted off a picture-perfect curveball, dotting the outside corner and securing the victory.
"He's not somebody that, when you prep for the Brewers, that's the first first name that you're prepping for, to be honest. We left different kinds of pitches in the middle of the plate. He hit a lot of pitches, and he hit balls hard. I don't know that he's a guy in that situation that we're going to be inclined to intentionally walk. I don't think any team in baseball has really had that conversation without a pitcher behind him. But he beat us this series. You tip your cap to him." -- Green, on Sogard
WHAT'S NEXT Brewers: After spending 10-plus seasons in the Minors, Paolo Espino will make his Major League debut against the Cubs on Friday. The 30-year-old right-hander will pitch in the opener of a three-game set at Wrigley Field. Game time is set for 1:20 p.m. CT.
Padres:Jered Weaver quelled some talk about his rotation status with six innings of one-run ball on Sunday. The veteran right-hander starts Friday night in the first game of a three-game set against the D-backs at Petco Park. First pitch is slated for 7:10 p.m. PT.