The Dodgers have the additional challenge of visiting Petco Park, where San Diego has been terrific for the past two months, as they attempt to cut their playoff deficit Tuesday night.
With only nine games remaining, Los Angeles (79-74) has a small margin for error as it seeks its first playoff berth since 2009. The Dodgers put themselves in that position by dropping 10 of 14 entering a three-game set at Cincinnati over the weekend.
They would take two of three from the NL Central champions for their first series win since August, and Adrian Gonzalez snapped a 25-game homerless drought with two solo shots in a 5-3 victory Sunday.
"Just win, man, that's all that matters," said Gonzalez, who hadn't homered since his first at-bat with the team Aug. 25. "We can't go out there and win a series anymore. We've got to go out there and try to sweep. We win nine games, that gives us a legitimate shot at this."
Los Angeles has been far from perfect in the past two series against the Padres (73-80), losing two of three at home in each - most recently Sept. 3-5.
The Dodgers, though, have not lost a series at Petco over the past two seasons, winning 10 of 15 games there. However, they haven't visited since May, and they're facing a Padres team which has gone 23-7 at home since July 17.
Josh Beckett (1-2, 3.45 ERA) has flourished against the Padres, going 5-1 with a 2.16 ERA in six starts, but now faces them for the first time since 2007 and has been struggling on the road. The right-hander is 0-5 with a 5.73 ERA over his last six road starts, including three since being acquired from Boston.
He gave up four runs over 7 1-3 innings Wednesday in Washington and did not get a decision in a 7-6 victory.
Two other midseason acquisitions could be back on the field for the Dodgers. Hanley Ramirez had to leave Sunday's win after fouling a ball off his left shin, but he will likely play Tuesday after X-rays came up negative. Outfielder Shane Victorino is expected to return after a strained left wrist kept him out of the Cincinnati series.
As Victorino looks to break a 1-for-20 slump, Ramirez tries to halt a 17-game homerless drought which dates back to when he hit his 24th of the season Sept. 3 against San Diego. He's hit four homers in his last 10 games at Petco while batting .366.
Padres scheduled starter Edinson Volquez (10-11, 4.30) also has been very good there, going 4-1 with a 1.98 ERA over his last six home starts and winning the last two.
Volquez, though, has lost two of three outings this month while posting a 6.19 ERA. Plus, the right-hander is 0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in four starts against the Dodgers this season.
The Padres are returning home after dropping two of three in Arizona and San Francisco last week, but they avoided a sweep to the NL West champion Giants with a 6-4 victory Sunday.
"You have to be positive and know that we have a good team," first baseman Yonder Alonso told the team's website. "We're going to be there, definitely going to be there."
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|September 15, 2012||Clayton Kershaw||Day-to-Day||Torn labrum, right hip|
|September 09, 2012||Clayton Kershaw||Day-to-Day||Sore hip|
|September 08, 2012||Adam Kennedy||60-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|September 08, 2012||Matt Kemp||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder strain|
|September 08, 2012||Adam Kennedy||Day-to-Day||Strained right groin|
|September 03, 2012||Javy Guerra||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|San Diego Padres|
|September 20, 2012||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|September 11, 2012||Carlos Quentin||Day-to-Day||Sore right knee|
|August 23, 2012||Jason Marquis||15-Day DL||Fractured left wrist|
|August 17, 2012||Nick Hundley||Day-to-Day||Bruised right knee|
|August 16, 2012||Nick Hundley||60-Day DL||Bruised right knee|
|August 11, 2012||Huston Street||15-Day DL||Strained left calf|
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers let another game slip away and with it their playoff chances took another hit.
A ninth-inning rally fizzled, Josh Beckett lost for the third time in six starts with the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres used two big defensive plays to beat Los Angeles 2-1 on Tuesday night.
With one run in and runners on the corners with one out in the ninth, closer Huston Street struck out Andre Ethier and got Matt Kemp to fly out to right to leave the Dodgers frustrated again.
With eight games to play, the Dodgers are tied with Milwaukee, 4 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card spot. St. Louis beat Houston 4-0 and Cincinnati beat the Brewers 4-2.
The Dodgers have lost 20 of 32 games since they last held the lead in the NL West, on Aug. 19. With the Dodgers struggling, the San Francisco Giants ran away with the division, clinching the title Saturday night with an 8-4 win over the Padres.
"Every loss is a tough loss," Kemp said. "We had it again where we had a chance to win it. Beckett pitched another great game, the bullpen did great job and we couldn't score runs the way we should have. Kind of the same thing every time."
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was frustrated because "again, we don't really do enough to win the game."
The Padres scratched out two runs against Beckett (1-3) and made two nice defensive plays. Left fielder Chris Denorfia threw out Shane Victorino at the plate in the second inning, and third baseman Chase Headley made a heads-up play that helped erase Kemp in the sixth, when the Dodgers failed to score after loading the bases with two outs.
Street got in and out of trouble in the ninth for his 23rd save in as many chances. Street allowed A.J. Ellis' RBI double to the gap in right-center and then put runners on the corners with one out before striking out Ethier on a changeup and getting Kemp to fly out to right to end it.
Street was making his second appearance since coming off the disabled list.
"I'd like to put up a zero. My last two outings I've given up runs, but to be 2 for 2 after coming off the DL, I'll take it," he said.
The benches emptied briefly after San Diego's Everth Cabrera slid into second baseman Mark Ellis trying to break up a double play in the seventh. Order was quickly restored, with Kemp acting as a peacemaker, and both benches were warned.
San Diego's defense came up big.
Victorino singled to right with one out in the second, stole second and tried to score on Luis Cruz 's single to left but was thrown out by Denorfia.
In the sixth, Kemp was hit by a pitch on the left arm by Edinson Volquez with one out and advanced on Adrian Gonzalez 's single to center. Headley ran in to bare-hand Hanley Ramirez 's high chopper. Seeing he had no play at first, Headley turned and threw to shortstop Cabrera, who came over to cover the bag. Kemp had turned for home and Cabrera chased him down for the second out. Victorino walked before Cruz forced him at second to end the inning.
"It was just bad baserunning, man. That's all you can really say about that one," Kemp said.
"I think those were the difference in the game," Volquez said. "If they don't make those plays, it could have been a completely different game."
Beckett, 0-6 in his last seven road starts, allowed two runs, one earned, and five hits in 5 2-3 innings, struck out seven and walked two.
San Diego scored in the fourth and fifth innings, both after leadoff walks by Beckett.
Logan Forsythe walked leading off the fourth and took third on Headley's single to center. Yasmani Grandal followed with an RBI groundout.
Will Venable opened the fifth with a walk and stole second. Beckett struck out Cameron Maybin and Volquez. Cabrera laid down a bunt single which Beckett fielded and threw past first baseman Gonzalez for an error, allowing Forsythe to score.
Volquez (11-11) allowed six hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked two.
NOTES: San Diego is 24-7 at home since July 17. ... Cruz had three hits for the Dodgers. ... Los Angeles first baseman Adrian Gonzalez played at Petco Park for the first time since he was traded from San Diego to Boston in December 2010. He was booed before each of his at-bats. Gonzalez, obtained in a blockbuster trade with Boston on Aug. 25, singled twice. Gonzalez was born in San Diego and was the No. 1 pick overall in the 2000 amateur draft, by Florida. ... Victorino set a career high with his 38th stolen base in the second inning. His previous best was 37 in 2007. ... Headley singled in the fourth for his career-high 162nd hit. His previous best was 161 last year. ... The series continues Wednesday afternoon when RHP Aaron Harang (9-10, 3.80) is scheduled to start for the Dodgers against LHP Clayton Richard (14-12, 3.81).