The consensus in the Modesto clubhouse is that there is no such thing as an ugly win, not even an ugly way to win a game.
If there were such a thing, Sunday's 9-8, 10-inning decision over Stockton would be at the top of the list.
After more than three hours of play, and a combined 30 hits and 355 pitches thrown by 10 pitchers, Justin Nelson scored from third base on No. 356 — a wild pitch uncorked during an intentional walk.
"It was an ugly way to lose a game but an exciting way to win one," said Nelson, who had three singles and three walks to reach base six times. "I've seen passed balls end a game, but never a wild pitch on an intentional walk."
Nelson led off the 10th with a walk on a 3-2 count against former Modesto Athletic Leonard Landeros (0-2). Neil Wilson followed with another walk, also on a full count. Both runners moved up when Jeff Kindel pushed a sacrifice bunt to third base, which forced the Ports to intentionally walk Travis Becktel to set up a double play situation.
"I saw that the first one was up and wide, so it was in the back of my head that the next one could be wild," Nelson said. "At the same time, I thought there was no way the game could end like that.
"I extended my lead, the pitch went wild and I got excited and had a decent jump. Once the ball bounced around the backstop a little I knew I was coasting home."
Landeros' delivery to catcher David Castillo started up and away from the target, and continued to tail, Castillo lunged upward toward the ball, but it tipped off his mitt and rolled to the backstop.
"I've seen that a lot," said Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein. "It happens in the big leagues probably three times a year. I would guess that the last time he practiced throwing an intentional walk was maybe in spring training."
It just goes down as another in a series of wild Modesto-Stockton games this season. On July 1-3, the last time these teams met, the Nuts swept a three-game series in Stockton by outscoring the Ports 36-24. That series kicked off a stretch in which the Ports have gone 2-12 while the Nuts have posted an 11-3 mark.
Modesto bunched five singles in a four-run second inning to take a 4-1 lead, but Stockton chased Nuts' starter Brandon Durden during their own four-run fifth inning. It gave the Ports a 5-4 lead and set the tone for a long, wild ride, with the teams exchanging salvos.
After the Nuts tied the game 5-5 in Daniel Carte's RBI single in the fifth, Stockton put up single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Modesto answered in the sixth when Eric Young Jr. tripled and Chris Nelson followed with a home run off the scoreboard.
The Ports still held an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the eighth, but Young singled and eventually scored on Justin Nelson's hit off closer Patrick Currin to tie the game 8-8.
Jonathan George (2-1), the fifth Modesto pitcher, got the win by working a perfect top of the 10th — the only time the Ports were retired in order.
"Every game we play against Stockton seems to be a slugfest," Justin Nelson said. "We've just happened to come out on top, and I really expected the same thing tonight — a close game that somehow we would win. We figured out a way to win."
Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at email@example.com or at 578-2300.