SAN DIEGO — Robbie Erlin was certain of two things after going four months between starts.
"I was pretty fresh and rested," he said.
"It was a solid, major league pitched game," Padres manager Bud Black said.
Alexi Amarista and Will Venable homered as the Padres took three of four in the series.
Erlin (4-4), slowed by a sore elbow this season, allowed a run on five hits in his first start since May 17. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter.
"His season was interrupted by the elbow, which was a bummer because I think he was off to a good start," Black said.
"This was more like what we saw in April and May. He threw the ball as though his arm is good, his elbow is fine and he pitched with conviction. I thought he had a nice mix of pitches," he said.
Erlin combined a fastball in the low 90s mph with a changeup and curve — and the help of four relievers — in stifling the Phillies.
"We had a good game plan going into it and I was just keeping the ball down in the zone as much as I could," Erlin said.
With no outs in the eighth, Philadelphia brought the tying run to the plate before Dale Thayer struck out the side. The Phillies scored twice in the ninth.
"We couldn't come up with the clutch hit in this series," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Kyle Kendrick (9-13) struggled in his five innings. He gave up three runs on six hits, five walks and a hit batter.
"I felt I was behind in the count a lot," Kendrick said. "It's tough to pitch that way."
Amarista homered in the second, lifting a changeup just into the right-field seats for a 1-0 lead.
Domonic Brown tied it with an RBI single in the fourth. The Padres scored in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Amarista.
Seth Smith had an RBI single in the fifth for a 3-1 lead. He drove in Jedd Gyorko, who singled with two outs and moved up when Yasmani Grandal walked, Kendrick's third base on balls in 10 batters.
The Padres extended their lead to 4-1 in the sixth after Cameron Maybin opened with a double and scored on Cory Spangenberg's single.
Phillies: SS Jimmy Rollins, out of the lineup since Sept. 8 with a strained left hamstring, continues to increase his work. Sandberg said it's possible Rollins will play this weekend at Oakland.
Padres: RHP Joaquin Benoit continues to make progress from the sore right shoulder which has sidelined him since Aug. 26. Black said Benoit could be available on Friday, but not likely in the closer role.
Phillies: RHP David Buchanan (6-7, 3.75 ERA) will face the A's for the first time when going against LHP Jon Lester (15-10, 2.45) on Friday night at Oakland.
Padres: RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (3-7, 3.63), who has lost seven of his last eight decisions, opens a three-game series against the visiting Giants and RHP Tim Hudson (9-11, 3.41).
At 5-foot-6, 152 pounds, Amarista doesn't stand out for his brawn. But Amarista hit his fifth homer of the year on Thursday, which puts him one ahead of Padres slugger Carlos Quentin. Quentin, at 6-1 and 235 pounds looks the part. But with various knee issues this season, Quentin played in only 50 games.
WEST COAST CHOPPERS
Even with Thursday's loss, the Phillies enjoy competing against clubs in the NL West. For the seventh straight season Philadelphia ends its schedule against NL West foes with a winning record, this year at 17-16.
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