Friday night was the first time since May 13 that Los Angeles had its projected 2-3-4 hitters all in the lineup, as center fielder Matt Kemp and right fielder Andre Ethier returned from the disabled list to join Mark Ellis.
"We've got a lineup," manager Don Mattingly said. "Other than Dee [Gordon], it's the kind of club we started with as far as the best club we have. It gives you the best chance to win. It's nice to have part of that back."
The task of preventing that rejuvenated Dodgers lineup from gaining momentum probably seems Herculean for the Padres, who haven't won at Dodger Stadium since May 2011. San Diego is 14 games behind the Dodgers and 2-8 against them this year.
The burden falls on righty Edinson Volquez to reverse his team's fortunes. Volquez and Friday's tough-luck loser Clayton Richard are the only Padres starters to make every scheduled start this year. Despite lapses in command, Volquez has turned in 11 quality starts in 18 chances. The stats suggest he'll need another if he's to have any hope of beating Los Angeles: The Padres provide Volquez with the lowest average run support in the Majors at 2.52.
He'll look to outduel a familiar face for Padres faithful, Aaron Harang. Harang went 14-7 in 28 starts with his hometown Padres in 2011. He is 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA against San Diego in three starts this season.
Los Angeles hopes Harang and its returning superstars can start a second-half surge.
"We got the first part of this race behind us and we left ourselves in position and we didn't really knock ourselves out of the thing," Mattingly said. "This is the most fun time of the season. These next couple months are really pennant race time, so every game is important."
Dodgers: Replacing Gordon
With normal leadoff man and Major League steals leader Gordon out with a torn ligament in his thumb, Mattingly turned to Jerry Hairston to fill the void at the top of the lineup on Friday.
Hairston was 1-for-4 in his first game as leadoff man this season.
Padres: Hermida, Stults nearing returns
Manager Bud Black said Thursday that outfielder Jeremy Hermida and starter Eric Stults are both close to returning to the Major League roster.
Hermida, a .257 hitter with 65 homers in parts of eight big league seasons, is hitting .250 in 24 at-bats with the Padres this season. The 28-year-old landed on the DL April 27 with a strained right adductor, an injury that forced him to have surgery May 15. He is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A Tuscon.
Stults is one of three Padres pitchers (Andrew Cashner, Huston Street) to find himself on the DL with a strained lat muscle. The lefty's injury occurred in a between-start throwing session. He allowed three earned runs on three hits in 2 2/3 innings in a rehab start on Thursday. Stults is 1-2 with a 3.33 ERA in four starts for San Diego this year.
Kemp was strong in his return to the Dodgers' lineup Friday, going 2-for-4. Ethier, who was the top RBI man in the NL before his June DL stint, was 0-for-2 behind Kemp.
Padres second baseman Logan Forsythe continues his consistent hitting since returning from the DL on June 3. His two hits Friday night pushed his season average to .308, and the 25-year-old is hitting .328 (19-for-58) with seven multi-hit showings over his last fifteen games.