It doesn’t get much worse that Edinson Volquez’s previous start. On Wednesday, the enigmatic right-hander reminded everyone just how good he can be on a given day.

Fresh off the worst start of his career, Volquez struck out a season-high nine batters over seven strong innings, Chris Denorfia hit his fourth homer of the season and the Padres swept the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves for the first time in eight years with a 5-3 win before an afternoon crowd of 22,316 at Petco Park.

“We’ve seen that out of Volquez; we’ve seen games like this,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “A couple of starts ago in Seattle, a very similar game. I think for him it’s about the secondary pitches in the strike zone.”

Logan Forsythe spotted Volquez a 3-0 cushion with a two-run single in the first inning, Volquez scattered a run on six hits and three walks and the Padres’ bullpen survived shaky eighth and ninth innings to push the team to within two games of .500 for the first time since May 20.

Justin Upton’s 430-foot homer off Joe Thatcher in the eighth inning, as well as Jesus Guzman’s throwing error, briefly threatened the Padres’ lead, but Dale Thayer fanned Evan Gattis and B.J. Upton to slam the door shut on that uprising.

Atlanta scratched a run across in the ninth inning on Jordan Schafer’s one-out single off Luke Gregerson and put the winning run on base on Jason Heyward’s two-out single off Tommy Layne only to have Nick Vincent strike out Justin Upton looking to end the Padres’ first sweep of the Braves since 2005.

All without the three projected starters – first baseman Yonder Alonso, second baseman Jedd Gyorko and center fielder Cameron Maybin – in the lineup, too.

“The guys rose to the occasion,” Black said. “… It’s a good group. We like the group of guys we have. The depth of our position player group we feel good about.”

For a change it wasn’t Volquez (5-5, 5.87) who got off to the rocky start.

No, after Volquez survived a two-out walk in the first, it was Braves starter Paul Maholm who struggled mightily with his command.

Atlanta’s left-hander walked Everth Cabrera to start the game, gave up a one-out single to Chase Headley and was surrounded by Padres on the bases when second baseman Dan Uggla threw low to second on Carlos Quentin’s chopper up the middle.

After bases-loaded walk to Kyle Blanks, Forsythe gave the Padres an early 3-0 lead on a two-run single to center.

That was all Volquez needed, too.

“That was huge for us,” Forsythe said. “Volquez threw a heck of a game. Every time we scored, he brought back a zero. We were just trying to play behind him and we got him a couple of runs.”