STOCKTON -- Darren Bush can't put his finger on the reason.
The Stockton Ports manager is stumped when asked to come up with the reason his team has won 10 consecutive games against the Modesto Nuts, including Sunday's 8-5 win in 11 innings on Chris Carter's three-run, two-out homer.
"They're a good team," Bush said with a shrug. "They had no errors in the three games here, they have a good pitching staff, they put together good at-bats, and I know for certain that they're fundamentally sound. Right now, we're just coming out on top."
Modesto won at Stockton on opening night, but the Ports never trailed in claiming the next nine head-to-head meetings. Sunday's game, except for the outcome, was different.
The Nuts led 1-0 in the first on Mike Paulk's home run, then scored four runs in the seventh after the Ports rallied for a 3-1 lead.
The rally was a gift for Modesto, which had only six hits in Sunday's marathon. The Ports loaded the bases on three walks, then Anthony Jackson tied the game with a two-run, two-out single to right.
With Geoff Strickland still at third base, Jackson took an early jump off first base, and pitcher Derrick Gordon threw to second base to start the rundown. While Jackson stayed alive in the pickle, Strickland got a jump toward home and scored without a throw when first baseman Carter froze with the ball.
Nick Haley followed with a double for a 5-3 lead that disappeared when Stockton scored two in the eighth off Will Harris, including one on Jed Morris' seventh homer of the season.
The Nuts threatened in the 10th, getting Haley to second with one out, and again in the 11th, when Michael McKenry walked, stole second and was at third base with one out after Jason Van Kooten's ground ball to the right side. But on both occasions, the Nuts failed to get a run across.
Andrew Johnston, who stifled Stockton's eighth-inning rally, worked two more innings before giving way to David Patton in the 11th. With two outs and no one aboard, he gave up an off-field double to Josh Horton, then intentionally walked left-handed Sean Doolittle to get to the right-handed Carter.
The same strategy was employed by Modesto in the ninth, and Carter obliged with a ground ball to third base.
"I don't think they should be walking Doolittle," Carter said. "They should pitch to him and try to get him out. All I was thinking watching that is that they're giving me a chance to win the game, and that's what I did."
Patton fell behind 2-0 in the count, then came at Carter with a high fastball. The 21-year-old slugger, one of the players who came to Oakland through Arizona in the Dan Haren trade, made no-doubt contact, sending the ball out of Stockton Ballpark and onto the outer promenade of Stockton Arena.
Modesto and Stockton meet another 17 times this season. It would be outrageous to think the Ports could continue this kind of success against the Nuts through August.
But then, 10 in a row already is a pretty outrageous streak, one that Nuts manager Jerry Weinstein isn't buying into.
"It's one in a row as far as I'm concerned," he said.