What's surprising in San Francisco is not the Giants' 10-6 start -- their best since 1973 -- but that fans have been pouring into Candlestick Park.

Remember Candlestick? It's too cold, too dangerous and too inaccessible. Fans never will return here, they said in the Bay Area. Build us a stadium, Giants management told the city.

So what happens is this: The right side of the infield has two first-rate rookies, Will Clark and Rob Thompson, and the left side has two classy second-year players, Chris Brown and Jose Uribe. The Giants start the season by winning in Houston and Los Angeles, and all of a sudden the Candlestick parking lot looks like a 49ers-Rams tailgate party.

In their first nine home dates, the Giants averaged 22,847, and they had five straight 20,000-plus crowds, which doesn't include the 46,000 who showed up for opening day.

Last Sunday for a Padres-Giants game, with Vida Blue going for his 200th victory, the Giants had an amazing walk-up sale of 23,000. The parking-lot traffic jams lasted until the fourth inning, and the traffic was bad enough that the caterer bringing the postgame Mexican food couldn't get to the clubhouse until 30 minutes after the game.

"I gotta get an attendance clause in my contract," cracked Manager Roger Craig.

HERE ARE SOME stories about defense, based on statistics going into this weekend's games:

That young Giants infield made only two errors in the players' first 15 games together.

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Mariano Duncan has made three more errors than the St. Louis Cardinals (seven to four).

Dodgers catcher Mike Sciosia has made five more errors than the entire St. Louis infield (five to none).

The Dodgers, with 29 errors in 17 games, are on a 276-error pace. They led the National League with 166 errors last season, but they have almost no chance of breaking their record of 408 in 155 games in 1905 (shortstop Phil Lewis made 66 that year).

PITCHING SLUMPS: Toronto's Dave Stieb, arguably the American League's best pitcher for three seasons, is only 5-11 with a 3.89 ERA since last season's all-star break.

Detroit's Jack Morris is 8-7 with a 4.42 ERA since the break, and Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson said Morris may have lost his good fastball by throwing too many split-finger pitches.

In two starts against Boston, Morris has allowed 20 hits, 11 earned runs and an .839 slugging percentage in 12 innings. The Red Sox have hit seven home runs off him; he allowed only 21 all last season.

IF YOU BELIEVE the New York Yankees will run away with the American League East if their starting pitching is any good at all, consider this: In their last 17 games going into the weekend, Yankees starters had a 2.25 ERA and only 15 walks in 84 innings.

The Yankees are holding on to first place, and the Rickey Henderson-Dave Winfield-Don Mattingly part of the lineup hasn't started hitting together yet.

TONY LaRUSSA became the Chicago White Sox's third-winningest manager this week by getting his 500th victory. He trails only Jimmy Dykes (899) and Al Lopez (852).

But he almost didn't get it. General Manager Ken Harrelson had driven to Milwaukee on Wednesday and was reportedly going to fire LaRussa if the White Sox didn't win that night.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Boston pitcher Bob Stanley on the Fenway Park fans: "They keep yelling, 'You aren't worth the money they're paying you.' But they keep throwing money at me. Dimes, quarters, everything. I collect more than a dollar a game."

THANKS TO THREE RAINOUTS, St. Louis Manager Whitey Herzog was able to start John Tudor three times in the Cardinals' first 10 games and only went to a regular four-man rotation when Danny Cox returned from the disabled list.

The Cardinals entered the weekend hitting only .218 as a team, but in their first 12 games, St. Louis pinch-hitters went six for 13. Clint Hurdle, zero for 16 as a pinch hitter for the Mets last season, is three for three this year.

AS PROMISED, Milwaukee Manager George Bamberger is going to try a four-man rotation, starting youngsters Juan Nieves, Bill Wegman and Teddy Higuera with Tim Leary and putting rookie left-hander Dan Plesac in the bullpen. "He could be as good as Dave Righetti," Bamberger said of Plesac, twice clocked at 94 mph this week.

IN HIS FIRST 127 major league starts, Boston's Bruce Hurst never had struck out as many as 10. But since July 23, he has done it 10 times in 23 starts. Scouts say he's throwing his curveball for strikes and pitching inside more often.

Before they won Thursday, the Dodgers had been 0-9 when Tom Lasorda had to use his bullpen, and that bullpen has been so bad that Fernando Valenzuela was left in to throw 163 pitches Wednesday night.

THEIR 4-11 START was the Dodgers' worst since 1927, when they began 3-12.

THE OWNERS' Player Relations Committee went down the 26 major league rosters to guess who each team's 25th player might have been. Their guess is that the average salary of these 25th men would have been $111,287, which is what each team is saving, on average, by carrying only 24 on the roster this season.

WHEN PHIL NIEKRO PITCHED against the Orioles on Tuesday, his slowest knuckleball was clocked at 41 mph. His fastest fastball was 75 mph.

FINALLY, THIS from last week's Birmingham Barons-Orlando Twins game. The weather was chilly in Birmingham, so management offered North Pole Night, which meant free admission for anyone bringing a picture of a penguin.

Ticket-takers were very lenient. They let in one guy who had a picture of a pelican and another who had what resembled a walrus. Nevertheless, only 262 showed up.