SAN FRANCISCO — By night, it is shrouded in fog as thick as witch's breath, and the chill wraps skeletal fingers around the very soul.
By day, bathed in the pristine innocence of a cloudless sky, it is a deceitful temptress, mocking suitors with blinding sun and heartless breezes.
It is Candlestick Park, where the line between reality and illusion disappears, where home runs become popups and popups become unguided missiles, where fielders collide and pitchers weep.
In other words, it was the perfect setting Tuesday afternoon for Fernando Valenzuela, for whom the bizarre has become commonplace, to lose his second game, 2-1, to the Giants, who had lost seven straight. The Giants finally caught a break from fate--if that's what you want to call the two unearned runs that resulted from Dodger shortstop Dave Anderson's second costly error in two games.
"I think the ballpark is possessed," Giant outfielder Jeff Leonard said. "It's like it wants to tell you, 'Let's see how badly they want to win today."'
Bill (Spaceman) Lee might have had the right idea all along when he said that if he made it back to the majors, his goal would be to blow up Candlestick.
It's doubtful that Lee would get an argument from the Dodgers, especially Valenzuela, who has now lost nine of his last 10 decisions in Candlestick, even though he ran his string of innings without allowing an earned run to 33. And what does he have to show for all those zeroes in his 0.00 earned-run average? Nothing more than a .500 record.
"That's a fact," said Valenzuela, now 2-2 even though he had allowed only four hits and a walk while striking out eight.
It's also a fact that the Dodgers might have spared Valenzuela some grief if their fastest runner, Mariano Duncan, hadn't come up lame attempting to score on Al Oliver's double in the seventh. Duncan pulled his left hamstring while running between second and third, but Dodger third-base coach Joe Amalfitano--who was following the ball in the outfield--didn't realize that he was waving a cripple home until after Duncan had rounded third.
"I saw him rear back, so I knew he'd done something," Amalfitano said. "There was no question in my mind he was going to score, until he took one step beyond third. I tried to put my hands up, but the young man knew he was the tying run, and he wanted to get in there."
Instead, Duncan slid head-first into the waiting tag of catcher Alex Trevino, on the receiving end of a strong relay from rookie shortstop Jose Uribe, who already has made a name for himself here.
Actually, Uribe, who came to the Giants in a trade from St. Louis, has made himself several names, evolving from Gonzales, his mother's surname, to Uribe, his father's, to Jose Uribe Gonzales, to his current handle. He is, in the words of Giant coach Rocky Bridges, "literally the player to be named later."
With Duncan erased, pitcher Mike Krukow averted further trouble by striking out Mike Marshall, who earlier had seen a certain two-run homer blown back into the ballpark for just another long out.
"There was no doubt in my mind that was a home run," Krukow said. "I thought it would end three-quarters of the way up the foul pole.
"I got a little brave after that. If that wasn't going to go out, nothing would. With that much wind, I said, 'Here, hit it."'
Krukow, whose 0.35 ERA puts him second in the league behind Valenzuela, has now beaten the Dodgers twice. He'd beaten the Dodgers in their home opener for his first win in Dodger Stadium, and Pedro Guerrero said it would probably be his last. Those words remained with Krukow.
"(Guerrero) is free to say whatever he wants to say, but I appreciated the motivation," Krukow said. "I was thinking about it all day."
Krukow would have had more to ponder had Duncan scored the tying run, because the inning began with Manny Trillo dropping Fernando Valenzuela's popup to second. Earlier, Giant catcher Alex Trevino had dropped a foul pop, and a popup by Duncan fell among three players for a double, even though it traveled no more than 20 feet from home plate.
"It was a classic case of 'I got it, you take it,"' Krukow said. "In that situation the pitcher is supposed to direct traffic, but I couldn't see a thing. We're lucky we held Duncan to a double, not a triple."
There were also two collisions, both involving Giant right fielder Chili Davis, who ran over Trillo in the fourth chasing Guerrero's shallow fly, then bumped heads with center fielder Dan Gladden just after Gladden had caught up with Guerrero's liner that tailed away from him.
Asked which he preferred, playing in the night fog or the daytime glare, Davis replied: "Staying at home in front of my fireplace with a glass of wine, some cheese and a beautiful girl."