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SD@MIL: Padres extend lead on Hundley's two-run shot

MILWAUKEE -- Nick Hundley didn't see this one coming at all.

"That surprises me," said Hundley, looking slightly stunned.

He wasn't referring to the Padres' 6-2 victory over the Brewers on Tuesday at Miller Park, a victory that was punctuated by several notable performances -- offensively, defensively and especially on the mound.

What really gave the Padres' catcher pause was the fact that this victory marked the first time since June 20-21 the team had won consecutive games.

"It just goes to show that it's not easy to win. That was a stretch where we didn't play good baseball," Hundley said.

In that sense, Hundley and the rest of the Padres are hoping the second half looks far different from the end of the first, and three victories in the last four games gave them some reason to feel excited for what's to come -- instead of fretting over what was.

"We've got to expect a lot more out of ourselves," Hundley said.

On Tuesday, the Padres got a lift from an offense that produced two home runs -- a two-run shot by Hundley and a solo blast from Will Venable -- as part of a 15-hit night. Second baseman Jedd Gyorko made two fine defensive plays and the pitching staff, led by starter Tyson Ross, held the Brewers to four hits.

"A good all-around game for us," Venable said.

Ross allowed one run on two hits and two walks in six innings in a start that lasted 82 pitches. He struck out six and won his first game of the year.

Ross was still throwing hard late in his outing, as evidenced by an at-bat in the sixth against All-Star Jean Segura, who took a called strike, fouled off two sliders and a fastball and then swung through another slider for a strikeout.

"That was a good sequence by Nick," Ross said of Hundley's pitch selection.

Ross' strong right arm wasn't bad, either, as he mostly avoided any real danger.

"Ross comes out throwing 96, 97 [mph], good slider, and I understand some of that. But we need to battle better than we have the last couple of days and see if we can give our pitchers some runs and see what happens," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.

Ross, making his first start since April 17, might have had a chance to start the seventh inning. But when the Padres scored twice in the top of the inning, manager Bud Black opted to go to his bullpen for the final three innings.

Ross, using a mid-90s fastball, a slider and a changeup that he's worked to develop, wasn't tested much by the Brewers (41-58). He allowed a run in the third inning, though his own throwing error on a pickoff attempt scored it.

His sinker was good, and his fastball had life, even late in the game. The changeup he worked on with Triple-A Tucson recently -- when he was there to get stretched out to start again -- was decent, said Black, though Ross will have to work to create more speed differential between it and the fastball.

"You don't see guys take good swings on his fastball," Hundley said.

Ross was pleased with his start, and felt he could have gone longer if needed.

"I had more bullets in there," he said, smiling. "I felt good, I had a lot of fun out there. I think I settled in and trusted my pitches."

Ross got plenty in the way of offensive support from the Padres (45-56). Mark Kotsay had three hits, his first multi-hit game since May 14. Yonder Alonso reached base four times (two hits, two walks) and drove in a run. Venable had three hits, and his fourth-inning home run gave the Padres the lead for good, 2-1.

Hundley had a two-run homer in the sixth to make up for his first-pitch pop-up in the second with runners on the corners and nobody out. The Padres didn't score there, but they kept on plugging away at Brewers' pitching.

"I was really frustrated not getting a run in from third there," Hundley said. "We've been talking a lot about situational hitting."

What they haven't been talking about is what happened between the last time the Padres won back-to-back games, on June 20-21 when they defeated the Dodgers to improve to 38-36, 2 1/2 games back in the National League West.

Shortly thereafter, the team drifted into a 10-game losing skid.

But that was then, the Padres insist. This is now.

"The last part of the season before the [All-Star] break was a struggle," Black said. "We didn't hit, we didn't pitch. It was good to see us do that tonight."

And now?

"They're a good young team," Roenicke said. "For a while there, they caught up in their division and they were playing really well, and then it was just recently that they haven't played as well. They still have a nice young team."

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