MILWAUKEE -- Zach Davies delivered his best start to date and Chris Carter snapped his slump, powering a 3-2 Brewers win over the Padres on Sunday at Miller Park.
Carter was in an 0-for-23 funk before collecting hits in three consecutive at-bats against Cesar Vargas and the Padres. Carter hit a booming solo home run in the third inning, followed by a single in the fifth and a go-ahead double off Kevin Quackenbush in the seventh as the Brewers rallied to split the four-game series. Jonathan Lucroy also homered for Milwaukee, his second in two games.
Brett Wallace's solo home run in the top of the seventh inning tied the game at 2 and spoiled Davies' hopes for his second victory. The Brewers right-hander pitched well, however, limiting the Padres to two earned runs on three hits, with no walks and six strikeouts.
"I felt like I was in the zone early, and that was something that I could build upon," Davies said. "Knowing what I worked on prior to the start going into the game, attacking hitters and being aggressive toward guys."
Asked whether it was Davies' best start of the season, manager Craig Counsell said, "I think so, for sure."
For San Diego, Vargas set a career high with seven strikeouts while allowing two runs on eight hits in five innings. It marked the Padres' 16th straight game decided by three or fewer runs. More >
"We didn't really have many bullets in the gun and choices to make today," Padres manager Andy Green said. "We had a lot of our bullpen down. We had starters up (in the bullpen) at the end. But yet there we were in the ninth with the chance to tie the game. That's kind of where we are. We are fighting."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Slump-buster: Carter contributed sacrifice flies on Friday and Saturday, but he was still searching for a hit before he stepped to the plate in the third inning and obliterated a Vargas fastball. Carter's 11th home run left his bat at 110 mph, according to Statcast™, and sailed 443 feet to center field.
"I took early BP yesterday and took probably 40-50 swings and just worked on staying on balls and hitting them more up the middle," said Carter, who has as many home runs this season as Bryce Harper. "To be able to make the adjustment on the fly, after you work on it, that's huge in those situations when you're struggling a little bit." More >
Leaving them stranded: San Diego didn't have many run-scoring opportunities but had Matt Kemp at the plate with the potential tying run at third base with two outs in the eighth. Kemp, who broke out of an 0-for-14 skid with three hits Saturday, lined out to center fielder Ramon Flores to end the inning.
Lost in flight: Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress improved to 10-for-10 in save chances after working around a scare in the ninth inning. He retired the first two hitters before getting Alexei Ramirez to hit a lazy fly to right field that would have ended the game, had Domingo Santana not lost it in the lights. Ramirez wound up at second base representing the tying run, but Jeffress induced a Jose Pierla groundout to first base for the final out. Combined with scoreless work from Blaine Boyer and Michael Blazek, Brewers relievers have a 1.59 ERA and a .197 opponents' average over the team's last 10 games.
"I think credit again goes to the bullpen," Counsell said. "'J.J.' and 'Blazer' [Blazek] were on three days in a row. 'Thorny' [Tyler Thornburg] was on three days in a row [Saturday]. Those guys are doing a heck of a job and they deserve a lot of credit."
Temporary tie: After fouling off a pair of two-strike pitches, Wallace hit a 91 mph fastball from Davies out to center field to tie the game at 2-2 in the seventh. Wallace entered 0-for-11 in the series before going 2-for-4 in the series finale.
Short bench: Already down to a four-man bench due to carrying an extra reliever, San Diego had just a pair of backup catchers available in reserve Sunday. First baseman Wil Myers was scratched from the lineup when he felt his left forearm tighten while taking swings just before first pitch. The Padres were also without Jon Jay, who was unavailable due to a sore right shoulder suffered while attempting a diving catch in Thursday's series opener.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Brewers won despite leaving a small army of runners on base for the second straight game. After going 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position and setting a season-high with 16 left on base during Saturday's 12-inning loss, the Brewers were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 men on Sunday.
"You never want to take yourself out of the lineup," Myers said. "I think that was the first time I've ever done that. It was a tough thing, but I think it was one of those things that had to be done."
WHAT'S NEXT Padres: After an off day Monday, San Diego returns home to open a six-game homestand against a pair of National League West rivals. Colin Rea will start Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. PT series opener with the Giants.
Brewers: The Brewers are off Monday before hosting the Cubs at Miller Park on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Chase Anderson is scheduled to start the opener against Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks in the second meeting of these teams this season.