Brewers 6, Padres 5
Martin Maldonado homered to cap a four-run sixth inning for Milwaukee and Braun drove in three runs for the Brewers, who went 5-4 against the visiting Pirates, Cubs and Padres. San Diego has lost four of five to fall to 20-41, a half-game below Chicago for the worst record in the NL.
''Definitely not successful enough for us,'' Axford said. ''We wanted to win more. We played some teams here that we thought maybe we could pick up a couple more games.''
''At least, we still ended up on top,'' he said.
That was barely the case Sunday, as the Padres scored three times in the ninth, forcing out the Brewers' closer after Chase Headley hit an RBI single and Carlos Quentin walked with the bases loaded.
Jose Veras replaced Axford and struck out Yonder Alonso looking, but he walked Jesus Guzman on four pitches to force home another run before he struck out John Baker looking for his first save since June 16, 2011, with Pittsburgh.
''It was another game that was hard to enjoy at the end,'' Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. ''It was a good thing we came out winning it, but we shouldn't let a game get away like that.''
''With those two arms, with Frankie (Rodriguez) and Ax back there, when we go into a game like this we shouldn't have too much trouble winning. And certainly we did today,'' he said.
Gallardo (5-5) gave up five hits and two runs, one earned, in seven innings, striking out five and walking two.
Anthony Bass (2-6) gave up four runs, five hits and three walks in 5 2-3 innings.
Bass has allowed 19 runs in his last four starts after posting a 2.94 ERA over his first eight starts this season. He was given a 2-0 lead and pitched well early, striking out the side - all looking - in the fifth. But Milwaukee scored four times in the sixth.
Norichika Aoki reached on an infield single, stole second and advanced to third when Baker's throw went into center field. Aoki scored on Braun's single, Aramis Ramirez and Taylor Green flied out and Rickie Weeks walked. That brought up Maldonado, who hit his second homer in three days and third since being called up on May 29.
Edwin Maysonet followed with a triple to center, just over the leaping Cameron Maybin's glove. Maybin hit the wall hard with his right shoulder and left as part of a double switch after the play. Manager Bud Black said Maybin had a sore neck but should be OK.
Braun hit his 15th homer of the year in the seventh.
San Diego scored two early runs thanks to some sloppy play by the Brewers.
Will Venable led off the game with an opposite-field homer to left on the fourth pitch from Gallardo. It was his second leadoff home run this season and seventh of his career, tying him with Quilvio Veras for the Padres' franchise mark.
The damage was almost much worse for Gallardo. Braun robbed Headley of extra bases with a leaping catch into the out-of-town scoreboard in left, just below the yellow home-run line at the top of the wall.
The Brewers gave away a run in the second. Alonso led off with a single and advanced to second on Maybin's groundout. Baker then hit a dribbler to the mound, but the ball went under Gallardo's glove and between his legs for an error. Everth Cabrera followed with a slow roller down the first-base line. Rather than let it go foul - which appeared likely - Green fielded it and had to make the play at first, allowing Alonso to score.
''Yovani I thought threw the ball really well,'' Roenicke said. ''A little off in his first couple innings, then he settled down, and his command was really good, using all his pitches. He did a good job of keeping us there and giving us a chance to have somebody pop one.''
Said Headley: ''To his credit, he made pitches when he had to. With us a lot of this year, sometimes it was our doing that we weren't able to get runs in, but I thought we had some decent at-bats.''
The Brewers can make up more ground in the NL Central when they travel this week to the struggling Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins, a combined 48-67 through Saturday. On Tuesday, Zack Greinke makes his first start in Kansas City since being traded from the Royals to the Brewers before the 2011 season.
NOTES: Braun was hit by a pitch for the sixth time this season in the third. Milwaukee batters have been hit 37 times in 2012, most in baseball. . Before the game, the Padres optioned RHP Andrew Cashner to Double-A San Antonio and called up right-hander Brad Boxberger from Triple-A Tucson. Cashner started in the Padres' 5-2 win Saturday over the Brewers, giving up two hits and one run over 2 1-3 innings, striking out five and walking two. Padres manager Bud Black said Cashner would begin his transition from reliever to starter. The Padres also transferred RHP Tim Stauffer (strained right elbow) to the 60-day disabled list. .. RHP Marco Estrada, on the 15-day disabled list since May 24 with a right quadriceps strain, will throw a simulated game in Kansas City on Tuesday. Manager Ron Roenicke said he hopes Estrada can make two minor league starts, beginning as soon as Saturday, before taking RHP Mike Fiers' place in the starting rotation.