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John E. Gibson

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Akamatsu, Lewis leave Giants seeing red

by John E. Gibson (May 2, 2008)

Call Masato Akamatsu overcompensation. The Yomiuri Giants would certainly like to.

The fourth-year player went 3-for-4 and homered for the third consecutive game, and big right-hander Colby Lewis fired a six-hitter as the Hiroshima Carp blanked the Yomiuri Giants 6-0 before 36,300 on Thursday at Tokyo Dome.

Akamatsu, who was compensation from the Hanshin Tigers for the free-agent signing of Takahiro Arai in the offseason, tore up the Giants to help the Carp take the rubber game of their three-game series.

He was one of six Carp players with multi-hit games in a 16-hit attack.

"I can't believe this myself. It feels good," said Akamatsu, who on Wednesday became the first player in Japan pro baseball history to hit his first two career homers from the leadoff spot in back-to-back games.

Akamatsu, who has one more homer than Arai in just 14 games, doubled in the first to help set up a run before blasting a three-run homer in the fourth to give Lewis and Hiroshima a commanding 4-0 lead.

"I wasn't trying to hit a home run in that situation," Akamatsu said. "I just wanted to get the ball to the outfield and drive in the runner on third. I hit it well and it just happened to go out."

He said the Carp, who moved percentage points ahead of Yomiuri into fourth place in the Central League, shouldn't have an 11-14 record.

"We have a long way to go and we should be better than this," Akamatsu said. "If we hit like this, we can put some runs on up the board, so I hope this gets up going."

Lewis (4-3) also had it going. He beat the Giants for the second time since April 20, tormenting Yomiuri batters all night. The 1.93-meter hurler walked none and collected a half-dozen Ks en route to his first shutout in Japan.

He got his biggest strikeout in the sixth inning with two on and Yoshinobu Takahashi at the plate. Takahashi took a called third strike to end the inning, and Lewis gave Hiroshima a sixth straight quality start of six or more innings, allowing three runs or fewer.

"He's been pretty consistent all year. We got him the lead and he got comfortable, and he wasn't going to come out of the game--he was going to finish it," Hiroshima skipper Marty Brown said.

The Giants put two runners on in the seventh, but pinch-hitter Yoshitomo Tani tapped back to Lewis.

The last seven Giants grounded out to end the game.

Hiroshima struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the opening inning.

Akamatsu doubled down the line in left to open the game and Soichiro Amaya drew a walk. After Alex Ochoa grounded into a double play to erase the lead runners, Kenta Kurihara split the gap in right-center field and Ochoa dashed home from first to give the Carp the lead.

Akihiro Higashide and Tetsuya Kokubo, who went 3-for-4 and scored a run, singled ahead of Akamatsu's homer in the fourth inning, and Ochoa and Yoshiyuki Ishihara each had RBI singles in the ninth inning to close out the scoring.

Loser Hiroshi Kisanuki (3-2) couldn't escape constant trouble. He battled hard over six innings, but allowed four runs on 12 hits and a walk, while fanning four.


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