SAN JOSE, Calif. - Coming off a series in which they won three of four games at home, the Stockton Ports kept their positive momentum going as they kicked off a four-game series with the San Jose Giants on Wednesday. Trailing 1-0 in the eighth inning, the Ports scored three runs and took advantage of a Giants error as they took the opener of the series with San Jose by a final of 3-1.
The game began as a pitcher's duel between Ports starter Tim Atherton and Giants starter Kendry Flores as the game remained scoreless to the bottom of the fifth. Atherton retired seven batters in a row after giving up a leadoff single in the first while Flores pitched around base runners in each of the first four frames.
San Jose took advantage of a walk and a balk to open the scoring in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs and the bases empty, Atherton walked Shawn Payne and then was called for a balk while facing Ben Turner which advanced Payne to second. Turner went on to hit an RBI single to left to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.
The run in the fifth inning was the only run allowed by Atherton who received a no-decision after pitching 6.1 strong innings and allowing four hits while striking out five. Kris Hall (4-0) came on midway through the seventh and stranded two inherited base runners to keep it a 1-0 ballgame.
Stockton put runners at second and third with one out after a single by Matt Olson and a double by Renato Nunez. Flores, however, would record back-to-back strikeouts of Bruce Maxwell and Dusty Robinson to end the inning and his outing.
Flores received a no-decision after pitching seven scoreless innings and allowing five hits while striking out eight.
Stephen Johnson (4-3) took over for San Jose in the eighth inning and gave up back-to-back singles to Billy McKinney and Bobby Crocker to put runners at first and second. Daniel Robertson came up next and laid down a sacrifice bunt back towards the mound. Johnson fielded the bunt and attempted to throw to third to force out the lead runner but the throw was errant and went into left field foul territory, allowing McKinney and Crocker to score and give the Ports a 2-1 lead. Robertson wound up at second base and scored two batters later on a sac-fly to right by Ryon Healy to stretch the lead to 3-1.
Johnson suffered the loss, going one inning and allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits.
Hall picked up the win as he tossed a scoreless inning-and-two-thirds in relief for the Ports.
Austin House (SV, 8) came on to pitch the ninth inning and gave up a two-out single to Payne. With Turner as the possible-tying run at the plate, House recorded a strikeout to end the ballgame and notch his eighth save in as many opportunities.
The Ports and Giants play the second game of their four-game set on Thursday night at Municipal Stadium. Sean Murphy (0-0, 2.16 ERA) will make the start for Stockton, opposed by Santiago Casilla (0-0, 0.00 ERA) who makes the start on a Major League rehab assignment for San Jose. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. PDT.