If you're a St. Louis Cardinal, your nerves are as jittery right now as Vince Coleman's feet. If you're a San Francisco Giant, you're murmuring, "Humm, Baby." Seldom has a tied playoff series seemed so one-sided when it comes to trends, injuries, matchups, momentum and omens.

Bad enough for the Cardinals that Jack Clark's ankle still throbs, that Danny Cox's mystery crick in the neck is still unhealed and that Willie McGee's wrist kills him swinging right-handed.

Bad enough that their ace, John Tudor, lost Wednesday afternoon, 5-0, undoing the good of upsetting the Giants' best man, Rick Reuschel, the previous night. And it's bad enough that the next three games are in woeful Candlestick Park, where the base paths will be soaked to fetlock depth and Manager Roger Craig said he hopes the infield grass is high enough for his horses to graze. Go on, Cardinals, try to chop grounders through this rice paddy. It's tough to be quick in quicksand. Or take an extra base while you're falling on your face.

But that's not the half of it. The Cardinals think Craig might have stolen their signs. To a team that lives by theft, that's like having a Soviet mole on the National Security Council. Twice, the Cardinals have tried to steal and, on those two pitches (and on no others out of 250 so far), the Giants pitched out. Both Cardinals were dead -- Coleman by yards. Some coincidence.

"Probably," said Smith of the sign leak. "Seems that way," said Dan Driessen. Dravecky walked four leadoff Cardinals in this game. After Tony Pena was snuffed, no other St. Louis player budged all day. Not even a hit-and-run appeared.

While the Cardinals froze, the Giants -- not a fast team -- showed off all sorts of loony-bin plays, maybe to thumb their noses at St. Louis. So what if a suicide squeeze lived up to its name. So what if a delayed steal of home backfired? The seed has been planted that the Giants'll try anything, including dumb plays, to surprise you.

"All we want to do is plant the seeds of doubt," said catcher Bob Brenly. "Make them wonder when we'll pitch out. Wonder if we have their signs. Wonder when we'll try pickoffs -- Roger calls all of those, too. Wonder what we'll do on the bases. We plant so many seeds, we're regular Johnny Appleseeds."

"Craig has stolen the signs of every team in the league," Brenly said, only half-joking. "He's uncanny. He sees every tipoff. Just proves if you keep your eyes and ears open, you'll learn something. And Roger has the biggest ears in the league . . .

"One thing's for sure, nobody knows our signs," said Brenly. "It took us two years to figure 'em out. . . . It's Roger's dream for the other manager to think he has our signs."

Asked the status of his attempted larceny, Craig said sarcastically, "I'm sure I'm going to tell you the answer to that." Maybe he's just guessed lucky twice. Maybe the Cardinals haven't had many running chances yet. Maybe Reuschel has a great pickoff and quick delivery and Dravecky had a career game.

Nonetheless, once a speed team starts putting on the breaks, it's like a slugging team swinging at bad pitches -- it's contagious. Smith has had four chances to test outfield arms and hasn't hit the afterburners yet. Willie McGee got frightened feet Tuesday, doing a Boog Powell station-to-station imitation twice in an inning.

Even the Cardinals' defense, normally fabulous, seems skittery. Smith not only let a potential inning-ending grounder go between his feet with the bases loaded, but was coconspirator with McGee in turning a popup into a double.

"I missed it. Okay? That's all. I missed it," said Smith, rapid fire. As for the dormant running game, Smith snapped, "People want you to run into outs just because you're a running team. We just haven't had the right opportunities yet."

Meanwhile, the Giants have their game -- the home run blitz -- in high gear. Twice, Leonard has come up in the fourth inning. Twice, the count has been 0-1. And twice he has hit tape-measure home runs over the 414-foot sign in dead center.

"The two longest home runs I hit all year," said Leonard, whose homer trots have been mustardly hotdoggery. Then he returns to left field and waves to the fans who boo him. "I love the boos," beamed Leonard, who has five hits and aims to collect on a bonus clause in his contract for winning playoff MVP. "But the fans here are only fourth or fifth place {on Leonard's boo meter}."

"Jeffery's game is fueled by anger, just like Will Clark is inspired by flashbulbs," said Brenly. "Hack {Leonard} loves to feel hostility around him. Nobody ever throws at him after his home run struts because he'd steal second, wait for a single, then knock the catcher into the seats . . . Let sleeping dogs lie."

As for Clark, you can't put too many eyes on him. Brenly says Clark's ideal at-bat would have the World Series on the line, his parents sitting behind home plate and "be on international TV."

So far, Leonard has only shown two of what he says are his five basic home run trots -- the dead arm and the cocked-arm with body tilt. The full sprint, the walk-home-from-third and the high-step are still on tap. "I don't hit that many. I like to enjoy them," he said.

The Giants, who swept four straight games from St. Louis last time they met in Candlestick, might have planted entire fields worth of doubt, but that's not the same as harvesting the pennant. Leonard has talked lots of trash " 'cause we know we can back it up," but the Cardinals have quieted cockier teams -- like the New York Mets.

"They aren't really free-wheeling on the bases yet," said Zimmer, "but they still can."

"If they stop running, they might as well wave the white flag," said Brenly, "but we know they won't."

Still, the Giants are dangerously confident at the moment. "This was a big game to win," said Leonard, adding with mischief, "especially if you don't want to come back."