Five errors keep Brewers from gaining ground on Cubs

Padres 9, Brewers 5

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Even though both teams are in the playoff picture, only the San Diego Padres looked the part.

Milwaukee made five errors, its most in eight years, and Scott Hairston hit a tiebreaking, three-run double to lead the Padres to a 9-5 victory over the Brewers on Thursday night.

"They had some miscues, and Hairston came up with a big hit down the line," Padres manager Bud Black said. "All throughout baseball this time of year, you have to make sure if you do get those breaks, you have to make them hold up and score some runs."

While San Diego (88-71) maintained its one-game lead in the NL wild-card race and stayed one game behind first-place Arizona in the NL West, the Brewers (81-78) failed for the second straight day to take advantage of a loss by Chicago.

The Cubs, who fell 6-4 to Florida, remained two games in front of the Brewers in the NL Central and saw their magic number to clinch the division fall to three.

"We sit and watch the Cubs lose two nights in a row; not being able to take advantage hurts a lot," said Brewers bench coach Dale Sveum, who filled in while manager Ned Yost served a one-game suspension. "We're in a rough situation."

Third baseman Ryan Braun made three errors for the bumbling Brewers, who haven't been to the playoffs since 1982, and first baseman Prince Fielder and left fielder Geoff Jenkins made one each. Milwaukee, which allowed four unearned runs, hadn't made five errors in a game since Aug. 1, 1999, against Montreal.

"I was just inconsistent defensively at third base," Braun said. "I wasn't nervous. I wasn't pressing. It was just one of those things where I didn't get the job done."

San Diego arrived in Milwaukee for its season-ending, four-game series at 6 a.m. after winning Wednesday night in San Francisco. The Padres didn't seem sleepy, taking a 4-0 lead in the third.

Padres starter Jack Cassel was chased after 4 2/3 innings as Milwaukee closed to 5-2. Former Brewer Joe Thatcher (2-1) relieved with the bases loaded and retired Fielder on a grounder, then pitched a perfect sixth.

"It's bittersweet, I root for them any other time of year, but obviously not this weekend," said Thatcher, who was signed by the Brewers in 2005 while making $800 a month in the independent Frontier League. Thatcher was traded in the midseason deal that brought reliever Scott Linebrink to Milwaukee.

"I like his stuff," Black said. "When we acquired him in the trade, our scouts and people who saw him, statistically what he had done, warranted a chance to do it at this level, and you never really know how it's going to play out."

Brewers rookie Yovani Gallardo (9-5) gave up five runs -- three earned -- and five hits in five innings.

Rickie Weeks homered twice for the Brewers, who led the NL Central by 8 1/2 games in late June.

Before the game, the Brewers said Chris Capuano will start Friday instead of ace Ben Sheets, who has a hamstring injury.

San Diego went ahead in the third, when Brady Clark singled, Cassel's bunt stayed fair down the first-base line for his first career hit, Brian Giles singled to load the bases and Hairston doubled into the left-field corner. Hairston took third when Jenkins misplayed the ball, then scored on Kevin Kouzmanoff's groundout.

Weeks homered in the bottom half, but Fielder booted Josh Bard's leadoff grounder in the fourth, and Bard scored on Cassel's double-play grounder with the bases loaded for a 5-1 lead.

J.J. Hardy's RBI single chased Cassel in the fifth. Cla Meredith hit Braun with a pitch, and Thatcher came on to retire Fielder after falling behind 3-1 in the count.

"I'm not going to sit here and say we had it the whole time, but as long as you're confident in the pitcher's ability to throw strikes, that's the key," Black said.

San Diego made it 9-2 in the seventh when Hairston's sharp grounder bounced off Braun's glove for an RBI single, Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly and Khalil Greene had a two-run single.

Weeks hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his 15th, off Doug Brocail, a drive that a leaping Clark couldn't hold at the center-field wall. Braun hit his 34th homer two batters later, but it wasn't nearly enough.

"We're running out of time," Braun said.

Game notes
Black said he planned to pitch ace Jake Peavy on three days' rest Sunday only if the Padres needed a win to clinch a tie for a postseason spot. If San Diego was assured of no worse than a tie, Peavy would be held back for a possible tiebreaker game or the first round of the playoffs. ... John Hirschbeck took over for Mike Winters on the umpire crew. Winters was suspended for the rest of the season on Wednesday for using a profanity aimed at San Diego's Milton Bradley last weekend. Bradley, who had surgery Thursday, tore a knee ligament when Black spun him to the ground to keep him from going after Winters.