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John E. Gibson

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'Star-struck Kanemoto stuck on 1,999

by John E. Gibson (Apr 12, 2008)

YOKOHAMA--Thousands of boisterous Tigers fans came buzzing into Yokohama Stadium on Friday in hopes of seeing Tomoaki Kanemoto's 2,000th hit. They left the stadium growling.

Yokohama ace Daisuke Miura kept Kanemoto at bay, and Ryoji Aikawa's two-out RBI single in the sixth gave the BayStars the lead en route to a 2-1 comeback win.

Miura said he didn't want to be part of Kanemoto's record, and he pitched the slugger tough in front of 18,044.

"The Hanshin fans were pretty excited, but I just wanted to shut the Tigers down," said Miura (1-1), who allowed a run in the second inning before filling the scoreboard with zeroes until the eighth inning.

"I'm glad I was able to keep [Kanemoto] off base, but getting the win was most important," said Miura, who fanned six while surrendering five hits and walking two.

Southpaw Matt White came on in the ninth to face Kanemoto and left him flailing at an offspeed pitch down and away. White got the next two batters to easily nail down his second save.

Kanemoto's next hit will not only be a milestone, it will break a prolonged slump. He has been sitting on 1,999 hits since Sunday, when he singled in the first inning against the Yomiuri Giants.

After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, he is now hitless in his last 15 plate appearances, including two walks. Of the 36 previous players who reached the milestone, the most trips to the plate needed to get hit No. 2,000 was 17.

"I don't think he threw me anything good to hit all night," said Kanemoto. "But that's baseball. I was seeing the ball."

Kanemoto struck out swinging in his first at-bat, then could only stare as a curve dropped in for a called third strike in his second trip to the plate.

The 40-year-old slugger didn't even take a good cut until he fouled off a 1-1 pitch in his third at-bat. He drove the next offering to the gap in fairly deep left-center, but Tatsuhiko Kinjo ran it down for the first out of the sixth inning.

"The Tigers have good pitchers, so we figured it'd be a low-scoring game," said Yokohama skipper Akihiko Oya. "Miura wasn't as sharp as he could have been, but he did well to hold them to one run."

That run came in the second inning as Hanshin grabbed the lead.

Makoto Imaoka and Takashi Toritani opened the frame with back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third. Lew Ford's sacrifice fly scored Imaoka, but Miura got the next two to escape further damage.

The BayStars got even in the third inning when former Yomiuri Giant Toshihisa Nishi lined a single off the left foot of Hanshin starter Yuya Ando. The ball ricocheted away, rolling into short right field and allowing Aikawa, who had singled and was sacrificed to second, to scoot home and even things at 1-1.

Ando (2-1) went to the locker room for treatment after taking the shot, and came back to close the inning, thanks to Keiichi Hirano's diving stop and shovel to second for the force out.

He stayed in the game, tossing eight innings and striking out 10 while allowing seven hits and three walks, but was the hard-luck loser.

In other Central League games:

Giants 2, Swallows 1: Yoshinobu Takahashi and Yoshiyuki Kamei led off the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back home runs and Seth Greisinger and two relievers made the lead hold up as Yomiuri topped Yakult at Tokyo Dome for its third straight win.

Greisinger (1-1) scattered eight hits and allowed one earned run in seven innings in defeating his former team. He struck out seven and walked one.

Kiyoshi Toyoda and Marc Kroon each pitched a perfect inning of relief, striking out one apiece. Kroon earned his third save in five appearances.

Yakult's lone run came in the third inning on Adam Riggs' RBI single. Kyohei Muranaka (1-1) gave up the first-inning homers and four hits overall in six innings to take the loss.

Dragons 7, Carp 3: Kazuhiro Wada accounted for all seven Chunichi runs with a pair of homers as the Dragons snapped host Hiroshima's three-game winning streak despite being outhit 12-7.

Wada cracked a grand slam in the first inning off Kan Otake (0-2) and, after the Carp closed the gap to 4-3, put the game away with a three-run shot in the fifth.

===

Pacific League

Eagles 5, Buffaloes 4, 10 innings: Pinch-hitter Katsumi Yamashita delivered a game-winning RBI single with one out in the 10th inning as Rakuten snapped a six-game losing streak by beating Orix at Kleenex Stadium Miyagi.

Orix trailed 4-1 going after six innings but tied it with single runs in the seventh, eighth and ninth, the last coming on Tuffy Rhodes' RBI single.

Fighters 3, Marines 2: Chiba first baseman Jose Ortiz's throwing error allowed the tie-breaking run to score in the sixth inning as Nippon Ham won its fifth straight, beating Lotte at Chiba Marine Stadium.

Shinya Tsuruoka gave the Fighters a 2-1 lead with a two-run double in the fourth, only to see Lotte tie it on Toshiaki Imae's RBI double in the bottom half.

Lions 8, Hawks 3: Yasuyuki Kataoka went 3-for-5 with two RBIs as first-place Seibu downed SoftBank as the two teams combined for 25 hits at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome.


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