Steve Garvey called his return to Dodger Stadium last night a "kind of poetic justice."

Garvey, first baseman for the San Diego Padres, received a standing ovation from a sellout crowd of almost 55,000. He tied Billy Williams' National League record of 1,117 consecutive game appearances when he took the field against his former teammates, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Garvey received a two-minute ovation as he came to bat in the first inning. Garvey doffed his cap and bowed to the crowd, but the at bat was less than special: he popped out to his successor, Greg Brock.

Brock hit his third homer in three games to help Los Angeles defeat the Padres, 6-2. Garvey was 0 for 4.

Fernando Valenzuela (2-0) allowed 11 hits and got last-out relief from Joe Beckwith. San Diego starter Ed Whitson (0-2) gave up five runs, four earned, in three innings.

The Padres got a run in the first inning on Sixto Lezcano's double, but the Dodgers moved ahead to stay in their half of the inning, Ken Landreaux doubling home one run and another scoring when third baseman Kurt Bevacqua couldn't handle Pedro Guerrero's grounder.

"In a word, it's wonderful to be here," said Garvey earlier. He had left the Dodgers under less-than-happy circumstances last winter to sign as a free agent with the Padres for a reported $6.6 million minimum over five years.

"Poetic justice is a good term for my returning to set the record here," he said. "I'll never forget what I had with the Dodgers for the last 15 years (in the club's organization)."

Garvey's consecutive games streak runs back to Sept. 2, 1975, when he missed a game because of the flu.

Dodger Stadium also is sold out today, when he can become the No. 3 man on the major league list.

Only Lou Gehrig, with 2,130 games, and Everett Scott, with 1,307 games, will rank ahead of him.

Garvey, 34, said returning to Dodger Stadium as a visitor was a strange experience.

"I drove up from San Diego in the morning, and I did some reflecting," he said. "I remembered the first time I played here, my first World Series, my friends here, the fans . . .

"When I got to the stadium and went down to the clubhouses, I had to make a conscious effort to turn right, toward the visitors' clubhouse.