Jeff Kent hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the 10th, his second late-inning RBI, and the Dodgers beat the Padres 4-3 Thursday for a split of their four-game series.
Los Angeles has won two in a row after losing the first eight games of a 13-game, four-city trip.
"Unexpectedly, the division has been weak," Kent said. "We've played so badly, yet here we are, five, six games out, whatever it is. And we're not even at full force. We're not even close."
Actually, Los Angeles is 4½ games back, in third place. The Dodgers have lost only two games to San Diego in the standings during their skid, mainly because the Padres, who also have several injured players, lost 12 of their first 15 games this month.
"Yeah, we're doing damage to ourselves, but we've still got a lot of time left to get our guys out of the training room, get them out on the field and play baseball the way the Dodgers can play baseball," Kent said.
Closer Eric Gagne is scheduled to have reconstructive elbow surgery on Friday. Outfielder Milton Bradley is on the crowded disabled list, and outfielder J.D. Drew missed his second straight game with a sore left elbow and isn't expected to play in the field during a weekend series at Anaheim, although he might be able to DH.
"I will not fault the effort we are getting each and every day," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said. "To come back and win in the manner we did today, with as many young players we had involved today, it's a very, very good character-building win."
Cesar Izturis doubled to right-center field off Trevor Hoffman (0-4) opening the 10th, was sacrificed to third by Mike Edwards and scored on Kent's fly to center.
San Diego's Mark Sweeney reached second with one out in the ninth, but was picked off by Duaner Sanchez (2-3). Dave Roberts then flied out to left.
Yhency Brazoban pitched the 10th for his 13th save in 16 chances.
After going 22-6 in May to set a franchise record for wins in a month, the Padres have lost 14 of 21 in June.
Padres right-hander Brian Lawrence was cruising with a three-hit shutout, a season-high eight strikeouts and a 3-0 lead going into the eighth before he was chased and the Dodgers tied the game. Kent hit a bases-loaded single to score the first Dodgers run, and Olmedo Saenz followed with a two-run single.
Padres manager Bruce Bochy was quick with the hook after Lawrence opened the eighth by allowing pinch-hitter Oscar Robles' double into the right-center gap and walking left-hander Jason Grabowski.
"I hung a pitch and didn't want to give in to the left-hander," Lawrence said. "I think Boch wanted to get me out of there and not give up a three-run homer.
"I can't say how well I would have done if I had stayed in there," he added. "With the bullpen we have, you can never go wrong."
This time, though, it did go wrong.
Akinori Otsuka came on and got two outs, but then loaded the bases with a walk to Jayson Werth. Kent singled to left past diving shortstop Khalil Greene to score Robles, and Saenz singled to left to bring in Grabowski and Werth.
"For seven innings, we were pretty much flawless," Bochy said. "That was a game that we definitely gave away. We made too many mistakes."
San Diego took a 3-0 lead off Elmer Dessens, who threw 93 pitches in just four innings. Ryan Klesko hit his 13th homer with two outs in the third, an opposite-field shot to left. Geoff Blum walked leading off the fourth and Sean Burroughs singled, and both scored. Blum came in on Miguel Ojeda's groundout and Burroughs on Lawrence's sacrifice fly.
Dessens allowed three runs, four hits and four walks and struck out four.
Reliever Derek Thompson pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Dessens to keep the Dodgers in it. With runners on first and third and one out in the seventh, he fielded Brian Giles comebacker and started an inning-ending double play.
"We needed to at least split," Thompson said. "We can't afford to lose any more ground, especially against this type of team. It's definitely huge to come back and win that game, to keep things right where they're at."
After starting at catcher four of the last five games, San Diego's Robert Fick played 1B, the fourth position he's started at this year. He also was the DH in one interleague game. ... Nick Hardwick of the San Diego Chargers, wearing a brown Padres throwback jersey from the early 1980s, delivered the ceremonial first pitch like any center would, by turning around, bending over and hiking it to Mark Sweeney.