SAN FRANCISCO Baby steps is what they are taking here in the land of Giants.
After days of wobbling backward, the youthful Giants of today untested descendants of a championship team from two years ago wobbled and tottered forward with a 7-5 win Thursday afternoon over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Last year's champions helped the Giants greatly by committing three errors and by failing to finish Giants ace Matt Cain when he showed rare vulnerability early.
But make no mistake: The Giants' victory lightened the mood considerably around here. It was the most runs the Giants have scored at home all season. It was the oddest of all Giants games.
Cain had given up more hits (seven) by the third inning than he had surrendered in a game all season yet his team actually got him enough runs for a win.
In fact, Thursday's win was a blueprint for what the Giants must do to survive until some of their name players return from injury if they return from injury.
The Giants committed no errors. Their two Brandons Crawford and Belt stopped killing their team for a day by driving in three of the Giants' seven runs between them.
Crawford, the struggling shortstop, got his first hit with runners in scoring position this season when he coolly laced a two-run single to left in the second inning. In the first inning, Crawford had scored the Giants' first run on an RBI single by catcher Buster Posey.
But in the second, Crawford made a legitimate contribution with his own bat by showing patience and poise stroking a 3-2 pitch from Cardinals starter Adam Wainright to the opposite field. It was Crawford's first RBI in 17 games.
As for Belt, the gangly first baseman is still lacking the power any kind of power that is expected of him. He has yet to hit a home run this season. He did, however, have a two-double game against the Cardinals.
Also critical was Posey reaching base three times and looking more commanding in his plate appearances. Coming off last season's horrific leg break, Posey has heard whispers that his stamina was flagging after missing 10 months of baseball.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that Posey has been trying to do too much to make up for the team's persistent lack of offensive punch as the Giants lurched through the early season.
Going into this game, the Giants led the majors in errors. On the offensive side, there has been an almost teamwide epidemic of horrible at-bats, especially when runners are on base.
Emerging leadoff hitter Gregor Blanco is showing his teammates another way to play. He drew two walks, an essential element the Giants need to adopt as part of their game.
Center fielder Angel Pagan walked three times. Even Belt, whose youthful angst has caused him to stray from the strike zone far too often, took a walk.
"That's what we need," Cain said. "We need those (young guys) to build confidence."
Herein lies the riddle of the Giants. As Cain said, they expect to win. They have championship expectations.
But with Crawford, Belt, second baseman Charlie Culberson and third baseman Emmanuel Burriss, the Giants are stocked with Triple-A talent that everyone hopes will bloom, and fast.
That's not impossible, but it doesn't work that way very often. Though Culberson got his first career RBI, it came on a seventh-inning forceout where he didn't hit the ball with authority. He still looks lost at the plate. Burriss also had an RBI in the sixth on a sacrifice fly, but he remains a singles hitter when he hits at all.
Yet it will have to do until Pablo Sandoval returns in early June from a broken hand. Sandoval's replacement at third base, Joaquin Arias, is also badly needed back from an injured hand.
And most needed of all is second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who has missed almost a year because of a shoulder injury.
If Sanchez returns, the Giants could have something with him, Sandoval and Arias in the infield. The many black holes in the Giants lineup could become productive.
With pitchers like Cain who proved Thursday he can win even on his worst day success is attainable in a division of unproven rivals.
If success comes at all, it will be one baby step at a time.