SAN DIEGO -- When Jake Peavy's ERA rose faster than the price of gas, people started wondering what was wrong with San Diego's ace.
It turns out there's nothing to worry about, not since he quickly regained his All-Star form.
Peavy tied his career high with 13 strikeouts and allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings Thursday to lead the Padres to their 11th victory in 12 games, 8-5 over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Peavy's only disappointment was that throwing 109 pitches kept him from having a shot at a complete game.
"When you have good stuff, you're going to end up striking guys out," he said. "I just hate that I threw so many pitches. I should have finished that game. I wanted to finish that game. Not that I was walking a lot of guys, just going deep in counts, striking guys out. So it was one of those things."
Peavy (3-3) lowered his ERA to 3.61 after it had reached 5.17 on April 25. He looked more like the pitcher whose 2.27 ERA in 2004 was the best in the majors, and who led the NL last year with 216 strikeouts.
During Peavy's last start, Saturday night against the Chicago Cubs, bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds noticed that the pitcher's balance was off.
"I was rocking a little too much and my upper body just wasn't in sync with my lower body," Peavy said. "I didn't even know I was doing it. Ak even called down in the middle of last game and said, 'Man, Peavy's all out of whack."'
Peavy, pitching coach Darren Balsley and Akerfelds worked on it during a bullpen session Monday, "and obviously it made a whole lot of difference today," Peavy said.
"I wasn't as balanced as I need to be to make quality pitches on a consistent basis," he said. "I knew I felt out of whack. You have starts like today when you can close your eyes and probably throw a fastball low and away, and you have starts where you're trying to do everything in the book out there trying to get that feel."
The Padres took two of three from the Brewers, who ended San Diego's nine-game winning streak Tuesday night. The Padres won six of seven on the homestand.
Pitching was a concern coming into the season, and the Padres so far have dispelled that fear.
"Top to bottom, I can't say enough about our pitching staff," left fielder Dave Roberts said. "Without the quality starts, and the quality innings that the bullpen has given us, I'm afraid to think where we'd be right now."
The Brewers, who struck out 16 times, have lost seven of nine. They went 1-5 on a six-game road trip through Los Angeles and San Diego.
Peavy allowed a single by Bill Hall and a double by Chad Moeller to start the third, putting runners on second and third. The right-hander then escaped the jam by striking out pitcher Ben Hendrickson, retiring Gabe Gross on a fly to short left and striking out J.J. Hardy.
Peavy, San Diego's only All-Star last year, walked two. He set his career high of 13 strikeouts last June 20 in a 1-0 home win against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He also had two hits and two RBI, contributing to big rallies in the first and third innings. Just 1-for-14 coming in, Peavy drove in runs by beating out an infield single in the first and hitting a ground-rule double in the third. Roberts had three hits and two stolen bases.
The Padres added three more in the third, when Peavy's hit was the third of three consecutive one-out doubles. Blum chased Hendrickson with an RBI double, and Peavy bounced a ball over the center-field fence off Jared Fernandez to bring in Blum. Cameron added a two-out RBI single.
"That's why starting pitching is so important," Brewers manager Ned Yost said. "Your game generally goes on how your starting pitcher fares. You get in a hole early, it's hard to claw back, especially against an All-Star pitcher like Jake Peavy."
Hendrickson (0-1) allowed seven runs and seven hits in 2 1/3 innings, walked three and struck out one.
"You leave the ball up and they're going to hit you," he said.
Milwaukee scored four runs in the eighth. Dewon Brazelton replaced Peavy to start the inning and allowed three consecutive hits and a walk. Hall had a leadoff triple and Moeller singled him in. With Brian Sweeney pitching, Geoff Jenkins drove in a run on a groundout and Carlos Lee hit a two-run single.
Bowen partially dislocated his left thumb when he was hit by Prince Fielder's foul tip with two outs in the fourth. Bowen caught the last two pitches of the inning, then made way for Josh Bard. Padres manager Bruce Bochy said the rookie catcher is a candidate for the disabled list.