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Modesto celebrates 4th with its own fireworks

If hitting is contagious, as the Modesto Nuts have claimed all season, then a positive epidemic has spread its way through the clubhouse.

The Nuts, who scored 38 runs on 41 hits in a three-game sweep at Stockton, backed up that success Wednesday by collecting 12 more hits in a 9-5 victory over San Jose.

"Yes, it's contagious and we are sick," said Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein, whose team has won four consecutive games for the first time since April.

"We had great approaches tonight, again. I think the last venue (Banner Island Ballpark) kick-started us and now things are warm here and the ball is carrying."

The Nuts blasted seven home runs in Stockton's hitter-friendly waterfront stadium, and added three more to thrill the capacity Independence Day crowd of 4,478 at John Thurman Field, a haven for pitchers.

Eric Young Jr. led off the bottom of the first with a home run, Justin Nelson added a solo shot, also in the first inning, and Daniel Carte cleared the barrier in the sixth.

In all, seven hits went for extra bases as Modesto scored off all four San Jose pitchers it faced, including former San Francisco closer Tyler Walker.

Compare that to last Friday, when the Nuts were blanked in Bakersfield by a spot starter and two fellow relievers.

"We had off-nights in Bakersfield," Young said. "In the last couple games, the bats have been working for us. I'm not going to ask why, I'm just going to let it ride."

Modesto added a third run in the first off San Jose starter Gregorio Martinez (4-6) when Jeff Kindel followed Nelson's homer with a single and eventually scored on Nick Haley's single.

The Nuts made it 5-0 in the second on Nelson Robledo's single, Young's triple and Chris Nelson's sacrifice fly.

Brandon Durden (4-6), fighting severe allergy symptoms that weren't helped by the acrid fireworks smoke wafting through the ballpark, allowed two runs over six innings and left with a 6-2 lead when Carte's line drive cleared the fence in the sixth.

The Giants pulled within 6-5 with three runs off reliever Tomas Santiago in the seventh, including two on Ben Copeland's home run to right, but Santiago got out of the inning and worked a scoreless eighth.

Modesto got two of those back on RBI hits from Chris Nelson and Justin Nelson, giving closer Pedro Strop four runs to work with in a non-save situation.

The Nuts haven't registered a save since June 16, but if this hitting continues the closer will get plenty of action.

"You're going to be more aggressive at the plate when you're confident, and we've been swinging the bats well," Carte said. "When you're going bad and get pitches to hit, you end up fouling those pitches off. We're hot now, and we're hitting those pitches."

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

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