MILWAUKEE – Jake Peavy is money — even if he can't be trusted with it.
The San Diego Padres ace insists losing his money clip on an ill-fated trip to a Milwaukee casino Saturday night isn't a bad omen going into Monday's one-game playoff at Colorado to determine the NL wild-card winner.
And if any Milwaukee casino patrons happen to have picked up a big wad of bills, Peavy would sure like it back.
"I had way more money in it than I was gambling," Peavy said. "So hopefully some of those cameras caught somebody picking that thing up."
After blowing two straight chances to clinch a playoff spot in Milwaukee over the weekend, the Padres are counting on their ace to be more careful on the mound in a big game than he is around the roulette wheel.
San Diego lost a ninth-inning lead on Saturday and went on to lose in 11, then were blown out 11-6 by the Brewers on Sunday.
Colorado then held on for a 4-3 victory over Arizona to force the play-in game, as Padres players cheered and groaned like fans while they sat in the visiting clubhouse at Miller Park.
The mood in the clubhouse was grim, but Peavy was grinning.
"Hey, we're starting the playoffs with Game 7, you know? This is going to be fun," Peavy said. "I'm excited about the opportunity, and I think the boys will come out battling."
And if the prospect of having Peavy pitching didn't quite brighten the Padres' mood in the immediate aftermath of Sunday's loss, it probably will come Monday.
"We've got Jake on the mound," Padres starter Chris Young said. "Any time you have him on the mound, you've got to like your club's chances."
As backup plans go, it's a pretty good one.
Peavy (19-6) will face Josh Fogg (10-9) at Coors Field.
Padres manager Bud Black could have started Peavy on short rest on Sunday, but opted to keep his ace in his back pocket for the potential play-in game and started Brett Tomko instead.
"We had this mapped out for a while that it could come to this, based on what was happening over the last couple weeks," Black said. "And that was the case. We feel good with Jake, obviously."
Peavy has no record and a 1.29 ERA in two starts against the Rockies this year. He spent part of Sunday watching video of the Rockies, just in case he'd have to face them.
"They're hot," Peavy said. "They're as good as anybody in baseball. But they're definitely a beatable team."
Peavy has a 10-1 record and 2.20 ERA over his last 13 starts.
And he sounds ready to play.
"The season's on the line — that's fun," Peavy said. "You play 162, and you still need one more to decide if you're going home or you're in. We certainly didn't want it to get to this point. It is, and I'm excited about the opportunity and the challenge."
The Padres got to this point in the season with good starting pitching and a strong bullpen, but neither held up on Sunday.
"We've been swinging the bats well," Young said. "Our bullpen's been throwing well, minus a couple of innings the past couple of games. But we're in great shape."
Tomko cruised through the first three innings as the Padres took a 3-0 lead but fell apart soon after that. He allowed five runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings.
Milwaukee added three more runs in the sixth on a bases-loaded triple by Gabe Gross. Reliever Doug Brocail threw a tantrum in the dugout after giving up Gross' triple, knocking equipment off a shelf and winging his hat to the floor — another sign that the Padres were unraveling.
Can they forget about the last two days?
"We have to," right fielder Brian Giles said. "It's a one-game season now."
Black said the team's mood was OK despite the discouraging loss.
"Obviously when you fall behind, and fall behind by a number of runs, it can be deflating," Black said. "But our mood was, overall, fine."
Milwaukee finished the season on an upbeat note with back-to-back comeback victories. The Brewers went 83-79 for their first winning season since 1992.
Despite being eliminated from the playoffs on Friday — after holding an 8 1-2-game lead in the NL Central in late June — Brewers manager Ned Yost said it was important to play hard against the Padres on Sunday out of fairness to other teams in playoff contention.
"It is exactly what I expected out of my team," Yost said. "I didn't have to say anything to them. They have played hard all year and they just keep playing the way they had been playing."