Dodgers take field as NL West champions in San Diego

With the NL West title already locked up, Friday's opener of a three-game set with the San Diego Padres won't have much meaning in the grand scheme of things for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Edinson Volquez insists that is the case as well, even if he will be facing his former club for the first time since being released by the Padres on Aug. 27.

Volquez made the Opening Day start for San Diego this season, but was just 9-10 with a 6.01 earned run average in 27 starts before the Padres parted ways with the righty. He joined the Dodgers shortly afterwards and has gone 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four games (3 starts).

San Diego acquired Volquez from the Cincinnati Reds on Dec. 17, 2011 as part of package for Mat Latos.

"Another game," Volquez told of facing the Padres, who he is 1-1 against lifetime with a 2.21 ERA.

The 30-year-old did not factor into a 4-3 loss to San Francisco on Sunday, giving up three runs on five hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out seven and has fanned 16 to one walk in three starts with the Dodgers.

Los Angeles will take the field for the first time since clinching its first NL West title since 2009 with a 7-6 win over Arizona on Thursday. It completed an epic comeback for the Dodgers, who were 9 1/2 games out of first place on June 22.

The Dodgers squandered a 3-0 lead and rallied from a three-run deficit, with A.J. Ellis' leadoff homer in the eighth inning breaking the 6-6 tie. Hanley Ramirez clubbed two homers and drove in four runs as part of a 4-for-5 performance for Los Angeles, which became just the fourth club all-time to go from being in last place on July 1st or later to finishing in first place.

"It feels good, it really does," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "I'm a guy that doesn't show a lot of emotion and I really try to keep it even, but this is a great accomplishment for these guys."

The Dodgers had lost six of eight before Thursday's win and will try to round into form against Robbie Erlin, who is 2-3 with a 5.18 ERA in nine games (7 starts) this year with the Padres.

Eyeing a 2014 spot in the rotation, Erlin is coming off a tough-luck 2-1 loss to Atlanta on Saturday. The 22-year-old lefty gave up both runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings.

"In the later innings, (my pitch count) crept up, resulting in a home run and base hits," Erlin said. "But I'm feeling more confident with my offspeed pitches."

Erlin faces the Dodgers for the first time.

San Diego had won four straight ahead of yesterday's 10-1 loss to Pittsburgh. The Padres concluded a 10-game road trip 6-4.

"We played real good baseball and we won like six games on the road," San Diego shortstop Ronny Cedeno said. "We'll still keep playing."

The Dodgers have won five in a row versus the Padres and lead the season series 9-7.