Whenever Ventura County Gulls Manager Glenn Ezell needs help out of the bullpen these days, he calls on William Shanks, a 6-1 right-hander from St. Louis.
On Thursday, Shanks answered Ezell's call again by picking up his third save since Sunday and sixth of the season in Ventura's 8-7 win over the Stockton Ports at Ventura. It was the Gulls' 11th straight win and kept them within 2 1/2 games of first-place Palm Springs in the California League's Southern Division.
The Gulls are 25-14, while Palm Springs is 28-12.
Ventura trailed, 5-4, entering the bottom of the sixth, but scored four runs to take the lead for good. Domingo Martinez keyed the inning with a one-out single, while Eric Yelding doubled in another run.
A wild throw by Stockton's Fred Williams on Santiago Garcia's bouncer down the third-base line accounted for the other two runs.
Mark Dickman picked up the victory, his third win against no losses, while Shanks pitched 1 innings to register the save. Shanks struck out the side in the ninth inning.
"We're playing good ball," Ezell said. "Shanks has been quite a relief for us, especially in the late innings."
Ventura scored three times in its first at-bat. Rob Ducey's double down the right-field line following singles by Eric Yelding and Garcia scored the game's initial run. Darryl Landrum and Luis Reyna each knocked in a run on a groundout.
The Gulls added a run in the second inning on a double by new third baseman Jim Bishop, a Martinez single, and an error by Stockton shortstop Walt Pohle. Bishop was making his first start for the Gulls since being sent down from the Blue Jays Knoxville, Tenn. Double-A affiliate.
Gulls' starter Jeff Musselman carried a two-hitter into the fifth, yielding only a double to Rob DeWolf in the third and a two-out, two-run homer to Darryel Walters in the fourth. But Musselman was touched for three runs in the fifth inning, as Stockton went ahead, 5-4. A two-base error by right fielder Reyna gave Stockton two runs.
Dickman struck out four batters and walked three in his 2 innings of work. He continued to have control problems as he gave up three walks to run his total to 21 walks in as many innings.
Yelding, who entered the game hitting .237, was 3 for 5 and scored three runs. Garcia made several outstanding defensive plays, including a catch of Fred Williams' fly ball down the right-field line to end an eighth-inning threat. The catch kept Stockton from tying the game.
Gulls co-owner Ken McMullen said he hopes to get a good crowd at Ventura College Field for this weekend's three-game series with the San Jose Bees.