for this game

With postseason hopes fading, Dodgers open set with Padres

Sep 25, 2012 - 3:18 PM (Sports Network) - Like a sunset on the West Coast, time is running out on the Los Angeles Dodgers and their quest for the postseason.

With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Dodgers are 3 1/2 games off the final wild card berth in the National League and will open a three- game series tonight against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

The Dodgers have alternated wins and losses over their last six games and posted a series win over NL Central-champion Cincinnati with Sunday's 5-3 victory. Adrian Gonzalez homered to lead off a four-run seventh inning and finished with a pair of home runs, while Mark Ellis, Andre Ethier and A.J. Ellis each drove in a run.

Clayton Kershaw shook off a hip ailment to throw five innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts and five walks. Shawn Tolleson picked up the win with a scoreless sixth inning and Brandon League tossed the ninth for his fifth save.

"He was just rusty more than anything else," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw's first start since Sept. 11. "He's Clayton. He's going to keep fighting and battling."

Dodgers outfielder Shane Victorino did not start in the series against the Reds because of a left wrist injury, but could return this evening. Victorino is expected to start in left field Tuesday.

Los Angeles will turn to Josh Beckett for Tuesday's series opener and he is 1-2 with a 3.45 earned run average in five starts since coming over via trade from Boston. Beckett has posted back-to-back no-decisions and was touched for four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in seven innings of a 7-6 win Wednesday at Washington.

Beckett, who was just 5-11 in 21 starts with the Red Sox, has enjoyed success in his career against San Diego, going 5-1 in six starts with a 2.16 ERA.

San Diego's chances of reaching the postseason have faded even though the club has played much better since the All-Star break.

The Padres salvaged the finale of a three-game series at San Francisco with Sunday's 6-4 win, as Mark Kotsay homered, Yonder Alonso drove in two runs and Everth Cabrera went 4-for-4 with a pair of runs scored.

"When you lose the first two, you'd really like to salvage that last one," Padres manager Bud Black said. "We've done that twice on this road trip."

Eric Stults was reached for three runs in the first six innings for the win and Huston Street held on for his 22nd save in the ninth for the Padres, who won for just the second time in six tries.

San Diego is kicking off a six-game homestand versus Los Angeles and San Francisco tonight, and will hand the ball to Edinson Volquez. Volquez had won three of four starts until facing Arizona on the road in a 6-2 setback on Wednesday and allowed four runs in six innings to absorb the loss.

Volquez dropped to 10-11 in 30 starts this season with a 4.30 earned run average and is 0-2 in four meetings with the Dodgers this season. In five career starts against L.A., Volquez is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA.

Los Angeles is 9-6 against the Padres this season, but has lost two straight and four of the previous five meetings between the NL West foes.