MODESTO -- The Modesto Nuts were in the upper half of the California League in most offensive and pitching categories during the first 70 games of the season.
The Nuts' one glaring downfall that resulted in a 34-36 record and a third-place finish was their inability to win close games. The Nuts won only nine of their 25 one-run decisions a ratio that will have to improve if Modesto is going to contend in the second half.
So far, so good, as Juan Crousset's four-pitch, bases-loaded walk with one out in the 11th inning brought home Brett Tanos with the winning run of Modesto 6-5 victory over Stockton.
The game-winning rally came gift-wrapped, as reliever T.J. Walz walked the bases loaded one was intentional before Crousset looked at four straight pitches from Pedro Vidal.
The Nuts had hits in each of the first eight innings, which gave them ample opportunity to make this game a blowout, but going 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position hindered their output.
So it wasn't until Stockton committed a huge error with two outs in the eighth that Modesto finally was able to take a shot at opening the second half with a win.
The Ports picked on relievers Nick Schnaitmann and Kraig Sitton for four runs in the sixth-through-eighth innings to take a 5-2 lead, but much to the delight of the crowd of 2,373 the Nuts mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth.
With one out, Jared Clark walked and Crousset followed with a triple off the wall in center, then scored on Dustin Garneau's ground ball to bring the Nuts within 5-4.
But Modesto wasn't done, as Cristhian Adamas singled and moved to third on Rafael Ortega's fifth hit of the game, a single up the middle.
The rally appeared over when Casey Frawley hit a routine grounder to second base, but Michael Gilmartin couldn't corral the ball, allowing it to carom off his glove and behind his back as Adamas sprinted home to tie the game.
Modesto's Leuris Gomez opened his half on a high note, putting together one of his best starts this season. The righty allowed one run on three hits over five innings, walking two against seven strikeouts.
And he left after 78 pitches with a 2-1 lead when Brett Tanos tripled to right-center with one out in the fifth and scored on Kyle Parker's single to right.
Meanwhile, Stockton starter Blake Treinan also got through five innings, spending most of it in the stretch. He allowed nine hits and walked four, but always got back to the dugout before allowing the big hit.
NOTES Hector Gomez, who was on target to be on Colorado's opening-day roster before suffering a groin strain, started what is expected to be an extended rehabilitation assignment.
By plan, he started at second base and played three innings before retreating to the clubhouse for treatment. Gomez will be in the lineup roughly every other game as he plays his way back into shape.
This four-game series continues tonight and Saturday, both 7:05 p.m. starts with fireworks following the games, then concludes with Sunday's 6:05 p.m. first pitch.Nuts pitchers Christian Bergman and Tyler Matzek discuss their all-star experience. See the video at thehive.modbee.com/thurman