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John E. Gibson

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Giants complete sweep of falling 'Stars

by John E. Gibson (Apr 25, 2008)

On one hand, the Yomiuri Giants can look at the completion of a three-game sweep over Yokohama with pride. On the other hand, victories over a team that has averaged one win a week the first month aren't much to brag about.

Hisanori Takahashi was sharp through his longest outing of the season, and Michihiro Ogasawara socked a line-drive three-run homer in the first inning as Yomiuri took down the falling 'Stars 6-2 before 37,559 at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.

Takahashi (2-2) finished off a dominating three-game pitching performance against a club that came in with the top team batting average in Japan. The southpaw allowed a pair of runs on five hits and no walks, while ringing up five strikeouts as the Giants held the BayStars to four runs in the series.

"We are starting to put it together and play like we can," said Yomiuri skipper Tatsunori Hara, who said he liked the way Takahashi battled on the mound.

"More than the way he pitched, the way he worked and competed out there was big."

Hara's Giants, though, are still two games under .500 and open a three-game weekend set against the first-place Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium tonight.

"They're playing really well, so we want to go in and play strong," Hara said.

Takahashi looked strong from the start, and wasn't hit hard, despite giving up two runs.

"The way I want to pitch is keep the ball down and go after the batters," said Takahashi, who has won two straight decisions. "I hope I can keep this up."

Yomiuri's first series sweep of the season didn't come as easily as the final score would indicate. The 4-16 BayStars put the tying runs on base with two outs in the eighth inning, but Luis Gonzalez snared Yuki Yoshimura's ground shot to first to end the inning.

The Giants rallied for two runs in the bottom of the inning to widen the gap, but sent closer Marc Kroon out in a non-save situation anyway to finish it off.

Loser Takumi Nasuno (1-3) was finished nearly before he started. The lefty squared around to bunt in the top of the third inning, and took a Takahashi fastball off his left shoulder. The BayStars, who have lost five straight, decided to play it safe and Nasuno left the game down 3-0. He got iced down but didn't go to the hospital.

That forced the BayStars to turn to their unproven bullpen, which kept the game close. Shoma Sato, an 18-year-old rookie southpaw, came up big for BayStars, allowing only one run over his four innings.

Sato ran into trouble in the sixth inning. After back-to-back strikeouts, Shinnosuke Abe, who tied his career-best with 33 homers last year, went deep for the first time this season in his 84th trip to the plate to give the Giants a 4-1 cushion.

Alex Ramirez led off the eighth inning with a solo home run. Yomiuri then loaded the bases with none out and added a run on 19-year-old Hayato Sakamoto's final hit of his first four-hit game.


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