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Friday, September 20, 2013
Dodgers lose ground in home-field chase

By Mark Saxon

SAN DIEGO -- Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly insists he would like to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. He's just not extreme about it.

The Dodgers' lineups figure to get more competitive as the team gets closer to its first playoff game on Oct. 3, but the first post-clinching effort didn't go so well. The Dodgers, or perhaps we should say the Isotopes, lost 2-0 to the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Friday night.

The good news was nobody got hurt. In fact, nobody who figures prominently in the Dodgers' playoff plans really could have gotten hurt (barring a household accident), because none of those guys played until the ninth inning.

The bad news was that it's looking more and more likely the Dodgers will open the postseason on the road. They trail the Atlanta Braves by 3 ½ games and the St. Louis Cardinals by two. If the playoffs started Saturday, L.A. would be opening at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

One positive development was a strong outing by Edinson Volquez, who is competing for a spot as a long man/emergency starter on the Dodgers' postseason roster. Bear in mind that he was facing the Padres, his former team and the No. 13 offense in the National League. But he had his longest outing as a Dodger, 6 ⅓ innings. Volquez gave up two runs and five hits and struck out six batters.

One negative development was more sloppy defense by Dee Gordon, who threw a ball away after fielding Chris Denorfia's grounder in the first inning, leading to an unearned run. The Dodgers have begun using Gordon at second base -- and even toyed with using him in the outfield -- and that seems like a reasonable course of action at this point.

Gordon has seven errors in 24 games at shortstop this season. His speed could come in handy in October, but carrying him strictly as a pinch runner could be a luxury the Dodgers can't afford, particularly with a bench filled with veterans.

Mattingly plans to play his regular lineup behind Clayton Kershaw on Saturday, with the exception of Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier.

"We'll be back at it tomorrow," Mattingly said.