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Home runs power Ports to First Win04/18/2009 1:12 AM ET
By Kristin Pratt / Stockton Ports
STOCKTON, Calif.-The Stockton Ports have gone the last eight games without hitting a home run, and scoring a total of eight runs.
The Ports broke their home run-less streak and matched that season total in runs scored in Friday night's game, thanks to the three-run home run in the fourth inning by catcher Matt Smith, and the first Stockton grand slam of the season by first baseman Matt Spencer. With a show of power, the Stockton Ports (1-8) defeated the San Jose Giants (6-3), 8-7, despite a strong comeback attempt by the Giants in the eighth and ninth innings.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning, when Ports starter Scott Hodsdon allowed four consecutive singles to the heart of the Giants order. Nick Noonan scored on a single by Conor Gillaspie, while Buster Posey crossed home plate on a single by Angel Villalona. Hodsdon then buckled down and retired the next two batters.
The Ports answered in the bottom of the fourth with a resounding shot, putting them in the lead for the first time against the San Jose Giants this season. Michael Richard led off the action with a single, and Greg Dowling also reached base with a walk. Smith knocked a three-run home run off San Jose starter Scott Barnes to left field to put the Ports on board, 3-2. The blast was the first Stockton home run this season, and until Friday night, the Ports were the only team in the California League to not have a home run to its credit.
The Giants tied the game in the top of the fifth, as an RBI single by Buster Posey brought home Vladimir Frias. The run was credited to Hodsdon, although Posey was the first batter that Jon Hunton faced in 2.1 innings of relief. Hunton picked up the win for the Ports, allowing four hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts. Posey finished the game 3x5 with an RBI and a run scored. Five of the Giants starters collected two or more hits in the game, while only Richard had multiple hits in the contest for the Ports.
The Ports scored five runs in the fifth-the most in an inning this season. Frank Martinez led off the inning with a double, and he was followed on base by Alex Valdez, who reached on a fielder's choice. Shane Keough picked up his only hit on the evening with a bunt single to load the bases. Martinez came around to score as Richard singled to the shortstop, putting the Ports up 4-3. From there, the Ports remained ahead the rest of the game. Spencer then came up and notched his first grand slam of the season, on the first pitch from David Mixon, to left field.
Hunton pitched two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh, as the Ports enjoyed an 8-3 lead. In the eighth inning, Hunton gave up two consecutive singles, and was replaced on the mound by Pat Currin. Currin allowed a single to Roger Kieschnick, and a ground-out by Thomas Neal allowed Gillaspie to score. A sacrifice fly by Trent Kline brought home the Giants' fifth run of the game. Both runs were credited to Hunton, and Currin struck out one in one inning's work.
In the ninth inning, Dan Thomas took to the mound to protect the Ports 8-5 lead. Frias led off the ninth with a single, and was followed on base by Noonan. With two on in scoring position, Posey stepped up to the plate. Thomas got Posey to strike out swinging. He then walked Gillaspie to load the bases. A fielder's choice for Villalona allowed Frias to score, and an RBI single by Kieschnick brought home Noonan, as the Giants were striving to tie the game.
But Smith and Spencer, the homering heroes of the game, were the put the finishing touches on the victory. Neal came up to bat with runners on the corners, and struck out swinging. But the out was not complete until catcher Smith threw Neal out at first base to Spencer. Thomas picked up his first save of the season.
The Ports will be taking on the San Jose Giants for the third time in this four game series at 7:05 p.m. at Banner Island Ballpark on Saturday, April 17. The Ports will look to RHP Scott Mitchinson (0-0, 1.80) to lead the way against the Giants and LHP Craig Clark (0-0, 0.00).
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.