The San Francisco Giants traded away ever-popular Bill Madlock to Pittsburgh yesterday, but easy there, you grumbling Candlestickers, help is on the way: Joe Strain and Pedro (Love at First Bite) Borbon.

Madlock, winner of National League batting titles with the Cubs in 1975 (.354) and 1976 (.339), hit .302 and .309 the last two years for the Giants but somehow, along the way, his reputation as a solid contributor didn't keep up with his averages. And, this year, he wallowed in the 100s for weeks before regaining his touch, then when he did, he broke out in a feud with Manager Joe Altobelli. Something about criticizing a team meeting called by the skipper, and as a result, four days' benching for the Giant second baseman.

Goodbye, Bill. Though you lead the club in game-winning RBI.

"We needed pitching help," General Manager Spec Richardson explained after sending Madlock, who plays third base as well as second, to the other NL division (along with veteran lefty Dave Roberts and, at the minor league level, our old friend Lenny Randle), for Bucco right-hander Ed Whitson. Richardson noted the Giants' 4.26 staff earned run average; he did not mention that Whitson is 4.34 for Pittsburgh.

But there's also Borbon, acquired by the Giants from Cincinnati for utility man Heity Cruz. Maybe old Pedro can relieve Richardson's complaint - "We've been blowing too many ball games in the eighth and ninth innings."

And while Madlock adds his heft to the Pirate "Lumber Company," where Rennie Stennett is still struggling to recapture his pre-broken-leg form, the afore-mentioned Joe Strain is the man for second base by the Bay, stepping up from Phoenix to a regular job.

"Strain has hit .300 everywhere he's played," Richardson said. . .