In the second, Chris Denorfia, who was filling in for Carlos Quentin and his sore knee, nailed Shane Victorino at home with a strong throw and athletic tag by catcher Yasmani Grandal to keep the Dodgers off the board.
"[Denorfia's] game is based on being a fundamentally sound player," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Today, he charged that ball well, threw a one-hop strike to [Grandal]. It was a good play."
Chase Headley also made a smart defensive play to catch Matt Kemp off guard in the sixth. With Kemp at second and Gonzalez on first, Hanley Ramirez hit a slow roller toward Headley, who charged the ball and barehanded it before faking a throw to first. Headley spun and saw Kemp had taken a wide turn past third base, then caught Kemp in a rundown for the second out of the inning. Volquez later got Luis Cruz on a fielder's choice to end the scoring threat.
Volquez attributed the win to those two plays more so than his own performance.
"I think that was the difference in the game," Volquez said. "They scored one run in the ninth, and if we don't make those plays before, it's going to be a different story."
Black echoed Volquez's sentiment, but said in addition to Headley's breakout season with the bat, his fundamental play has improved as well.
"I've noticed this year Chase has really taken a big step forward in the little game," Black said. "Obviously, the big picture, his offensive numbers speak for themselves. But, in the little game, that play today, in-dugout conversations during the game ... Chase has really taken a step forward."
The Padres twice capitalized on leadoff walks by Dodgers starter Josh Beckett to generate their offense. Logan Forsythe earned a walk to start the fourth and advanced to third on a hit-and-run single by Headley, his 162nd hit of the season to establish a new career high. Grandal's groundout to the pitcher was enough to bring Forsythe home for a 1-0 lead.
Will Venable led off the next inning by drawing a walk, stole second and scored when Beckett threw wildly past first base on Everth Cabrera's bunt single, giving San Diego the 2-0 advantage.
"I beat myself. That's kind of how you feel," Beckett said. "I'm not saying the Padres didn't have to show up tonight. But you know as a Major League player about leadoff walks. It's like the golden rule."
Joe Thatcher and Dale Thayer combined for a scoreless eighth before Huston Street escaped a jam of his own creation in the ninth.
Street allowed a leadoff single to Cruz, who scored when A.J. Ellis followed with a double, cutting the lead to 2-1. Street walked Mark Ellis before striking out Andre Ethier and getting Kemp on a flyout to remain perfect in his 23 save opportunities this season.
"I'd like to put up a zero," Street said. "My last two outings I've given up runs. You don't like to admit rust, you don't want to admit not being game-speed, but I think my last two outings I've missed on a few pitches I haven't missed on normally. But I'll take it. I'll give up runs two days in a row and get two saves days in a row."
At the end of the seventh, an incident at second base involving Victorino, Mark Ellis and Cabrera resulted in both benches clearing and converging toward the center of the field. It was quickly defused, however, and no ejections were given as a result.
"I didn't see the replay," Black said. "I think [Cabrera] was going in there to try to break up a double play. I think Mark Ellis took a little bit of exception to what [Cabrera] did.
"Mark's a pro, I respect him. He took exception to a guy trying to break up a double play, and I think at that point, in September, two in-division teams that are playing hard, something was said. There was a little stand up, and here come a couple other guys, and before you know it, the guys are on the field. I make it out to be a pretty intense two-run game."
Gonzalez had two singles for the Dodgers, who fell 4 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second National League Wild Card spot.
"It's a lousy loss," manager Don Mattingly said. "We had a chance to get back in it at the end, to tie it and extend the game. I know that's not the way to play it, but we didn't do enough to win the game."