Instead, they needed Trevor Hoffman to come in and close the game.
The Milwaukee pitching staff let San Diego back into the game after a nine-run lead, but two home runs a piece from Mike Rivera and Prince Fielder were too much for the Padres to overcome as the Brewers hung on to win, 12-9, at Miller Park.
"We'll take a win anyway we can get it," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "We scored 12 runs [and] we swung the bats very well. These guys here, San Diego, they gave us fits."
After a struggling bullpen gave away the first two games of the series to San Diego in the later innings, the Brewers jumped on Padres starter Cesar Carrillo (0-1) during the early going of the series finale.
Fielder started the fireworks in the bottom of the second, leading off the inning with a 465-foot solo home run off the Miller Park scoreboard in center field -- the third-longest blast in stadium history. Rivera then drilled a three-run shot to left field for his first homer of the season.
Rivera and the Brewers came back for more in the next inning. Braun hit a two-run homer and Gerut drove in Cameron with a double to knock Carrillo out of the game after the rookie allowed eight runs in 2 1/3 innings in his Major League debut.
Luis Perdomo relieved Carrillo, but he was welcomed to the game by Rivera, who hit his second homer of the game to left field to make the score 9-0.
"I've been waiting to contribute for the whole season and to help the team and it feels great," said Rivera, whose two home runs were his first since April 2008. "We've been struggling offensively and it feels good to get some hits and contribute."
Fielder hit his second homer of the game and Brewers starter Manny Parra also added an RBI single in the fifth inning.
The Padres started chipping away, scoring three runs in the fifth and sixth innings off Parra (8-8), who earned the win despite allowing six runs on 13 hits.
"They're a hot-hitting team," said Parra, who remains unbeaten since his return from Triple-A Nashville. "The first four innings, to me, I wasn't in trouble. I was in complete control. The trouble didn't come until the fifth and sixth innings."
And the Padres' comeback quest didn't end there, either.
San Diego added three more runs in the eighth -- one on a dropped fly ball by second baseman Felipe Lopez with two outs and another on an Everth Cabrera RBI single on the next play -- before reliever Mitch Stetter got pinch-hitter Will Venable to fly out, stranding runners on the corners.
Hoffman pitched a perfect ninth to record his 26th save of the season.
"When you're down, 9-0, after three innings and you get their closer in the game, you're doing a good job," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I'm proud of our guys. I'm proud of the fact that we didn't melt."
Before the game started, Thursday seemed to be a day almost destined for a Brewers loss. Not only were they playing a day game, in which they're 14-23 this season, but they were also facing a pitcher making his Major League debut, another shortcoming for the club.
But the Brewers won their second consecutive home day game after having lost six straight, and also won a game in which the opposing pitcher was making his big league debut for the first this season. They were previously 0-4.
"They kept answering back and I thought it was fortunate that Prince came up and hit his second homer after they had scored three and that gave us some breathing room," Macha said. "Unfortunately we had to go to the bullpen and get Hoffman. When you score 12 runs and you use almost everybody in your bullpen ... but a win is a win."
Rivera's standout game -- 2-for-4 with five RBIs -- also made Macha say after the game that he plans on starting the backup catcher Friday against Houston.
To begin the season, Rivera started whenever Dave Bush pitched. The plan not only gave the backup catcher regular playing time, but also ensured rest for veteran catcher Jason Kendall. But when Bush went on the disabled list on June 23 with a micro tear in his right triceps muscle, Rivera's role diminished, and he played just once until becoming Parra's regular catcher upon Parra's return from Nashville.
The decision was meant for a break and nothing more, especially since Rivera entered Aug. 8 hitting .203 on the season, including an 0-for-16 skid. Since then, he's 4-for-8 with two homers and five RBIs.
"It's great. I've been waiting for that opportunity," Rivera said. "I've been patient and I know Kendall is the catcher here and I just have to wait for my turn. So far I guess it's going to change a little bit and I'm going to try to do my best."
Macha also said other changes may be in store for the Houston series.
"We're trying to get the lineup out there that's going to win us as many games as we can. Having a bit of a power shortage in our lineup, Mikey [helps] that aspect of things," Macha said. "We'll see how that works out. There's a whole bunch of things, we have some infielders who are going to be shuffled around. That's basically my philosophy: The players write the lineup out."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.