Admittedly not at his best, Peavy grinded his way to seven innings of one-run ball against the Brewers. That was one more run than counterpart Ben Sheets allowed in nine frames. Milwaukee, behind Sheets and Prince Fielder's RBI double, escaped with a 1-0 victory in 2 hours, 7 minutes.
Peavy (9-10) is baseball's best sub-.500 pitcher. His 2.63 ERA is less than a tenth higher than his average in 2007. But his team is much worse. Worst, actually -- San Diego, at 54-88, has the worst record in baseball.
"I'm as frustrated as anybody in this clubhouse," said Peavy, who struck out five, walked four and gave up five hits. "I think the other guys, if they tell you they're not frustrated, I'm going to have a problem with it. This is frustrating. Losing sucks."
Strong words, but Peavy pulled up short, declining to continue his screed.
"I'm not going to go off," Peavy said. "I could go off."
Even a mediocre season would have the Padres in the heart of the National League West race. The streaking Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks before San Diego and Milwaukee took the field, taking the division lead with a 72-70 record.
"It's a tough situation when you've won for the past few years; you're watching other teams play meaningful games, [while] we're grinding it out," Peavy said. "But it is what it is, and some of these young guys that probably wouldn't have had a chance if we were winning are getting a chance. Maybe we can try to build and make something for next year."
Padres young and old had problems with Sheets. Only Luis Rodriguez (3-for-4) and Chase Headley (2-for-4) recorded base hits. Sheets, who threw 120 pitches, struck out seven and walked one in his third shutout of the season. Adrian Gonzalez fanned three times, and the Padres went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position a night after going 0-for-16.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the game," Headley said. "You know going into it, you're just going to have to claw and scratch for everything that you're going to get."
Peavy beat Sheets three weeks ago in San Diego, but knew what he was getting into, too.
"I knew at 6:05 tonight before we took the field that one run ... is probably going to beat you," Peavy said.
That one run came in the third. Milwaukee put two men on in each of the first three innings, and finally broke through on Fielder's double. But it was the play before that, Ryan Braun's infield single, that proved more costly.
Braun hit a slow roller back to Peavy, who fired low to first. Peavy's throw went through Gonzalez's glove on a play that would have been bang-bang if the tough catch was made. Braun came home on Fielder's double when second baseman Matt Antonelli air-mailed his relay throw home.
"I made a bad pitch to Fielder and he hit that ball hard, but [I] made a great pitch to Braun and he taps a ball out there," Peavy said. "I've got to make that play. It's a very makeable play, and I didn't do it."
Peavy has a few more starts to try to get back above .500, but he's got to be pretty good, if not perfect, to get wins. The Padres have given him more than four runs of support just once since June 18.
"You look at his ERA, he's been stingy all year," manager Bud Black said. "The run support hasn't been there."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.