Headley takes RBI crown as Padres win finale

Headley takes RBI crown as Padres win finale

Headley takes RBI crown as Padres win finale
MILWAUKEE -- At some point Wednesday, as he carefully ran through the details of another game with reporters, Padres manager Bud Black was asked if this particular victory felt the least bit different and not just because it was the final game of the regular season.

Was this game, a 7-6 win over the Brewers at Miller Park, essentially a microcosm of the Padres season?

"Bad early, good late," Black said, following a pause. "In a way ... this game tells the story of our year."

The Padres, buried in April and May under the weight of injury and under-performance, had a second-half push that culminated with a victory over the Brewers, a game that saw them trailing by six runs in the third inning.

San Diego relievers combined to hold the Brewers (83-79) hitless from the third inning on -- a 0-for-19 funk that saw one batter reach base on a walk and another on an error. Five of the six Padres relievers were rookies, like Nick Vincent, who protected a one-run lead by striking out Ryan Braun to finish the seventh inning.

All told, it was a 6 1/3 stretch of scoreless innings.

"They did a tremendous job," Black said.

The strikeout of Braun was notable as the Padres (76-86) held him without an RBI on Wednesday even as Chase Headley had two of them, including an RBI triple in the seventh inning to tie the game -- that gave him a National League-best 115 RBIs, three more than Braun's 112.

"He earned it, man. He had a phenomenal year. Especially what he did in that ballpark, it's pretty special what he was able to accomplish," Braun said of Headley, who reached base four times. "He had an incredible second half -- their whole team did, really.

"Hat's off to him. He deserved it."

Cameron Maybin, who had a big two-run home run in sixth inning, made a leaping catch in right-center field to rob Braun of an RBI in the first inning.

"That was a big play right there," Maybin said. "I thought about Chase as soon as I caught that ball since he was chasing Braun."

Headley, who was the National League Player of the Month for August and September, reached career-bests in hits (173), runs (95), home runs (31), walks (86), RBIs, total bases (301), on-base percentage (.376) and slugging percentage (.498).

"It's neat and a tremendous honor," Headley said of leading the league in RBIs.

He wasn't the only statistical winner Wednesday, as shortstop Everth Cabrera stole base No. 44. He led the league in that category, finishing ahead of the Braves' Michael Bourn (42).

The Padres scored two runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings. Headley's triple tied the game in that seventh inning and then his legs helped win it when he tagged from third base on Yonder Alonso's fly ball to center field, scoring just ahead of the throw by Carlos Gomez.

Chris Denorfia had a home run for the Padres, who made the most of their nine hits.

The bullpen took care of the rest, as Dale Thayer worked a scoreless eighth inning and Luke Gregerson earned his ninth save of the season by shutting the Brewers down in the ninth inning. San Diego closer Huston Street was unavailable due to soreness in his right biceps.

The game included an unlikely appearance by Andrew Cashner, who the Padres shut down two weeks ago. Cashner has been throwing on the side and on Wednesday tossed a scoreless inning of work.

"That leaves him with a good feeling," Black said.

So did this victory, for Black, his staff and the players. The finish of a long haul was a good one, even if victories in April and May were tough to come by.

"You play 162 games and you remember a number of them," Black said. "But that last one ... is always a good one to win. That showed a lot today about our group, being down 6-0 early on the road and then coming back.

"They just kept playing."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.