BASEBALL / ROSS NEWHAN : NAMES AND NUMBERS

* PLAYING D: Despite the absence of Will Clark and Robby Thompson, the San Francisco Giants have maintained their reputation as baseball's best defensive team. They lead the majors in fielding and have made only 19 errors in 55 games, a pace that projects to 56 for the season. The major league record for fewest errors in a 162-game schedule is 84 by the Minnesota Twins in 1988. The National League mark of 94 was set by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1992. The Giants had a franchise-record streak of 10 consecutive errorless games snapped a week ago.

* FEELING HURT: Third baseman Chris Sabo has recovered from the disk problem that put him on the disabled list, but he's dealing with wounded pride now. Sabo has asked the Baltimore Orioles to trade him, having lost his position to Leo Gomez while injured. Gomez endured an injury-marred 1993 season himself, which prompted the Orioles to sign Sabo as a free agent, but he took advantage of Sabo's injury to regain his 1992 form--17 homers and 64 runs batted in.

* CUBS' VOID: Greg Maddux, 9-2 for the Atlanta Braves this season, is 29-12 since the Chicago Cubs allowed him to leave as a free agent after the 1992 season. Mike Morgan and Jose Guzman are a combined 24-34 as the alleged 1-2 replacements for Maddux in the Chicago rotation. Morgan is 0-7 this year, and Guzman, with more than 2 1/2 years left on the four-year, $14-million contract he signed with Chicago before last season, is 2-2 and out for the year because of shoulder surgery.

* ANNIVERSARY WALTZ: How did Andy Van Slyke celebrate his 1,000th game as a Pittsburgh Pirate? He struck out four times Tuesday night and watched the San Diego Padres score 13 runs in the second inning.

"That's not what major league baseball is all about," said Van Slyke, who called it his second-worst game. As the Louisville third baseman in 1983, he made four errors in six innings the night after his wedding.

"I remember somebody asking me after that game where my new wife was, and I said, 'She left. She was much too embarrassed.' "

* PATHETICS: Here's part of the reason the Oakland Athletics have a 16-38 record: They have already used 34 players, 15 of them pitchers. They have tried eight first basemen, seven second baseman and eight starting pitchers.

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