The right-hander, jettisoned by Texas earlier this month after angering the Rangers by throwing at hitters, returned to the National League on Thursday and pitched the Dodgers to a 3-2 win over the Rockies.
"I can do a lot for this team," said Padilla, who allowed two runs and six hits in five solid innings.
Rafael Furcal, in the game for his defense, delivered a tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth and Matt Kemp hit his career-high 19th homer as the Dodgers put the brakes on the surging Rockies by taking two of three at Coors Field. They also opened a four-game lead in the NL West over the wild-card leaders.
"Damn right that's what we needed and wanted," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
And now the Rockies have to go to San Francisco for a weekend series after an emotional week in Colorado, where they took three of four from the Giants before facing Los Angeles.
"We didn't win this series, but we won this homestand," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, whose team has to face Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain this weekend. "We're still in a wonderful position."
The relieved Dodgers appear to have a much easier road ahead, with three games at Cincinnati this weekend before playing nine games against struggling Arizona and San Diego.
Four relievers combined to preserve Padilla's first win for his new team, and Jonathan Broxton got the last four outs for his 28th save in 32 chances. The Rockies put runners on first and second with one out in the ninth before Broxton struck out Eric Young Jr. and Seth Smith.
The resurgent Rockies, who once trailed L.A. by 15½ games, had won eight of 10 before the Dodgers took the last two games of this crucial series.
"I'm not worried about cooling anybody off. It's all about our record," Torre said. "We're trying to enhance our record. We hold our fate in our own hands and if we take care of business ourselves then we don't have to look around for help."
Padilla (1-0), who played for Arizona and Philadelphia before getting traded to the Rangers in 2005, signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers on Aug. 19 after he was released by Texas, where he was 8-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 18 starts this year.
In going back to the NL, Padilla has to bat, which could make him a target for retaliation if he keeps plunking batters, something he didn't have to face in the American League. He didn't hit anybody Thursday.
Torre was eager to see if Padilla could help L.A. down the stretch considering the uncertainty surrounding right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who went on the disabled list after being hit in the head by a line drive Aug. 15.
"He hangs in there. He eats up innings. That's big at this time of the year," Torre said.
With sinkerballer Padilla on the mound, Torre decided against resting slumping shortstop Furcal, a decision that paid off -- but not in the field -- when he singled up the middle to score Orlando Hudson from second base in the sixth and give Los Angeles a 3-2 lead.
Kemp hit a two-run shot in the first off Jorge De La Rosa (12-9), who allowed baserunners in each of his seven innings but yielded just three runs and eight hits.
"They had been playing really well and had some hot hitting and good pitching. We shut them down," Kemp said. "We showed them we aren't going anywhere."
Carlos Gonzalez returned to the Rockies' starting lineup for the first time since cutting his left hand with a steak knife Saturday night, but he left in the fifth after jamming his left thumb into the grass while trying to rob James Loney of a double.
Gonzalez said the stitch didn't come out but his wound bled and his palm swelled up so much that he couldn't grip a baseball or bat. He said he was unsure if he'd be able to play Friday night.
The Rockies hadn't dropped a series at home since July 5. ... The Dodgers are 12-3 against Colorado this season. Eight of those wins came while Clint Hurdle was still managing the Rockies. "We got them early when they really weren't playing well," Torre said. "That's a good team. They aren't easy. They are tough. They are hard-nosed."