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Cold bats have Nuts looking for answers

The hot offensive streak is out there. It has to be.

No California League team goes through 140-game season without putting together a week-to-10-day streak in which the entire batting order gets hot, but the Modesto Nuts seem capable of testing that notion.

After Friday's three-hit shutout loss, the Nuts collected eight hits Saturday, but the big hit still remained evasive in two late potential rallies, and Modesto fell 5-4 before 3,836 at John Thurman Field.

Brandon Hynick (9-2) gave up four runs — three earned — on nine hits over six innings to absorb his first home loss of the season, and if truth be told, the Oaks probably squandered more scoring chances than Modesto.

On the other hand, the Nuts have been squandering such opportunities since April, and since they're hitting only .244 as a team their chances tend to be scarce.

"It's tough in there," said Jeff Kindel, who had two hits for the Nuts. "Once one guy steps up I think another will follow and it will become contagious."

Modesto did score early, getting a run in the first on Eric Young Jr.'s leadoff triple and Chris Nelson's RBI grounder. And in the fourth, Daniel Carte's two-out double down the left-field line scored two runs and gave Modesto a 3-1 lead.

But Visalia got to Hynick for two runs in the fifth and an unearned run in the sixth to take a 4-3 lead and set up Modesto's late failures.

In the sixth, the Nuts loaded the bases with one out against Oaks' starter Matt Torra (3-7) on a single and two infield errors. Torra responded by getting ahead of Carte, then jamming him with a fastball that became a 1-2-3 inning-ending double-play.

After Visalia scored a run against Jonathan George in the eighth for a 5-3 lead, the Nuts gave the home crowd hope in the ninth when Nick Haley led off with a double and Carte reached on an infield single.

With Kyle Blumenthal at the plate, Carte took second on a wild pitch, giving the Nuts three shots at getting the game-tying single.

It never came. Blumenthal struck out, Travis Becktel flew out to right to score Haley and Young grounded out to end the threat.

"We're not trying to be bad in those situations," Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein said. "We're trying to execute. If you measure progress by end results, it's bad, because the results will be bad more often than not, and that's just the nature of the beast."

It's also natural for players to become impatient — with themselves and their teammates — when game after game falls in the loss column because of the lack of the key hit. But Weinstein stressed that he sees no impatience on this team — no head-hanging keeping any player from doing the work necessary to improve.

"Everybody wants to be perfect in this game," Weinstein said. "If a player gets four hits, he wants five. There's no frustration and our work has not been affected. Nobody is throwing bats or firing expletives out on the field."

Bee staff writer Brian VanderBeek can be reached at bvanderbeek@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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