© 2010 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

05/12/10 10:32 PM ET

Dodgers know what to expect from Garland

It will be the case of the familiar against the unfamiliar when the red-hot Padres and Dodgers meet Friday in the first game of a three-game series at PETCO Park.

The Dodgers, who are riding a four-game winning streak, are plenty familiar with right-hander Jon Garland, who made six starts with Los Angeles down the stretch last season after being acquired via trade, while the Padres, fresh off a three-game sweep of the Giants, haven't seen right-hander Ramon Ortiz since 2007.

In fact, Friday actually will mark Ortiz's first Major League start since May 26, 2007, when he was with the Twins. It's been a long road back to the Majors for Ortiz, who pitched in Triple-A and Japan before making the Dodgers' Opening Day roster on a Minor League contract.

"I'm very happy when they told me," said Ortiz, who turns 37 this month. "It surprised me. It's been a long time, almost two years. I'm a very positive guy. I knew I could do this, being back in the big leagues. I never think about retiring or anything. My arm is good. If I throw 90 [mph], I'm OK, I'll keep going. When I can throw only 85, I'll go home."

Garland, meanwhile, has been solid with the Padres this season, as the right-hander is 4-2 with a 1.71 ERA in seven starts. He's certainly impressed Dodgers manager Joe Torre, who liked what he saw from Garland while in Los Angeles last season when he posted a 2.72 ERA after joining the club in late August in a trade with the D-backs.

"Garland has done a heck of a job," Torre said. "He's a good guy to settle down a young staff. He's simple: 'Just give me the ball.'"

Garland is one of several players off to a hot start for the Padres, who are on top of the National League West with a 22-12 record -- five games better than the Dodgers, who have won each of the last two division titles.

Torre, though, isn't surprised by the Padres' success this season even though they finished fourth last season.

"It's not surprising from what we saw from them this spring," Torre said. "They are pretty organized. Everybody dismissed them. When you look at that list of players returning from last year -- the list is this long."

Dodgers: Furcal ready to return
Shortstop Rafael Furcal, who has been on the disabled list for two weeks with a slight left hamstring strain, is expected to be activated before Friday's game. Furcal, who was batting .309 with a .378 on-base percentage before his injury, went 0-for-2 with a walk and strikeout Wednesday in the second game of a Minor League rehabilitation assignment for Class A Inland Empire at Lake Elsinore.

Padres: Packed houses on tap
The Padres are expecting big crowds at PETCO Park for the series this weekend. As of noon PT Thursday, there were about 4,000 tickets remaining for Friday's game and about 2,000 for Sunday's game. The game on Saturday is sold out. The two clubs enter on recent hot streaks, as the Padres have won five of their last six games and the Dodgers have won nine of their last 12. "It's always fun to play in front of a big crowd," Padres manager Bud Black said.

Worth noting
Dodgers right-hander John Ely will remain in the rotation after he earned his first Major League victory Tuesday night, Torre announced Wednesday. Ely, who was acquired in the trade that sent Juan Pierre to the White Sox, is 1-1 with 3.86 ERA in three starts this season. ... Dodgers right-hander Vicente Padilla had a follow-up MRI taken of the radial nerve in his right arm, which put him on the disabled list April 23, and it found that the swelling went down. Padilla, though, isn't expected to return to the club until sometime in June. ... Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, who is on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring, is expected to be activated and back in the lineup Friday against the Dodgers.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.