The 75-64 Chihuahuas are a half-game ahead of Las Vegas. El Paso closes its regular season with five games in four days at Reno, with a doubleheader Saturday night making up a rained out game earlier in the season.
El Paso won three of the four games in the head-to-head series at Las Vegas to claim the division lead.
Middlebrooks (.264) was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored with his fourth homer since being optioned by the Padres to El Paso. Liriano (.290) had his 14th homer as part of a 3-for-5 night that included three runs scored. Goebbert (.310) had his 10th homer as part of a 3-for-4 night that included three runs scored.
Right fielder Hunter Renfroe (.313) was 1-for-5 with two RBIs. Catcher Jason Hagerty (.295) was 1-for-2 with two walks, a RBI and a run scored. Right-handed starter Daniel McCutchen (9-8, 3.60 ERA) allowed one run on four hits and four walks with two strikeouts over seven innings.
Meanwhile, Fort Wayne lost a second straight game at Western Michigan, delaying the TinCaps' bid to clinch the second-half Eastern Division title in the Midwest League. Fort Wayne's lead over Western Michigan is down to two games with four to play going into Friday night's finale of a head-to-head three-game series.
Center fielder Michael Gettys (.230) was 1-for-2 with a walk and a RBI and had Fort Wayne's only hit.
Starting right-hander Dinelson Lamet (5-8, 2.99 ERA) allowed a run on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in three innings.
There were a series of moves in the Padres' minor league system Thursday.
Left-handed pitcher Caleb Thielbar cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Padres last week and rejoined El Paso. He took the place of left-hander Frank Garces on the Chihuahuas' roster when Garces was recalled by the Padres.
Left-hander Chris Rearick also cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Padres and rejoined Double-A San Antonio.
Right-hander Dennis O'Grady was placed on the Missions' seven-day disabled list and right-handed reliever Sam Holland was promoted from short-season Class A Tri-City to San Antonio.
Around the farm
DOUBLE-A SAN ANTONIO (58-78): Midland 4, MISSIONS 1. 2B Taylor Lindsey (.170) was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk, a RBI and a run scored. Starting RHP Ronald Herrera, 20, (3-1, 4.53 ERA) allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks with four strikeouts in six innings. LHP Brandon Alger (3.79, two strikeouts), RHP Cody Hebner (2.37, a walk) and Rearick (0.00, a strikeout) all worked a hitless, scoreless inning.
CLASS A ADVANCED LAKE ELSINORE (48-88): STORM 5, Rancho Cucamonga 1. 1B Marcus Davis (.250) was 2-for-3 with his eighth homer, two RBIs, two runs scored and a walk. C Ricardo Valenzuela (.184) hit his first homer in two at-bats. 2B Fernando Perez (.223, Otay Ranch High) was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Starting RHP Kyle Lloyd (7-11, 4.72 ERA) allowed a run on six hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in seven innings. RHPs Rafael De Paula (5.01) struck out two in a perfect inning. RHP Jason Jester (3.74) allowed a hit and a walk with two strikeouts in a scoreless inning.
SHORT-SEASON CLASS A TRI-CITY (39-34): DUST DEVILS 2, Vancouver 1. Tri-City scored twice in the bottom of the ninth for the walk-off win after three pitchers allowed one hit. Starting RHP Joel Linares (7.02 ERA) allowed a run on three walks and five strikeouts but no hits over four innings. RHP Luis Hernandez (4.36) allowed the one hit with two strikeouts in three scoreless innings LHP Jerry Keel (3-1, 3.00 ERA) had a strikeout in two perfect innings. LF Henry Charles (.190) was 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. RF Mason Smith (.225) was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored in the ninth. 2B Mitch Morales (.257) had the two-out, walk-off RBI single.