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Jim Allen

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Greisinger, Giants battle past birds

by Jim Allen (May 6, 2008)

Despite having their first lead of the holiday weekend and their best pitcher on the mound, things continued to go south for the Swallows.

Yomiuri's Seth Greisinger got over a couple of unlucky runs, but one tough break and Tokyo Yakult's Masanori Ishikawa fell apart in a 6-4 loss to the Giants at rainy Jingu Stadium on Monday.

Greisinger (4-1) allowed two runs on fluke hits to third base but kept his cool as two runs scored on ground balls that left Giants third baseman Takuya Kimura grasping for explanations. One came along with the business end of a broken bat and another struck the bag and kangarooed into left.

"Nothing you can do about that," Greisinger said. "It's a little frustrating but with our lineup, you know we're going to score. All I had to do is keep it close."

Ishikawa (5-2) also had a chance to keep it close, but he fumbled it against the heart of the Giants order The lefty came unglued in the fifth inning after Hayato Sakamoto's two-out dying quail single tied it 2-2. Ishikawa, who hadn't allowed more than two runs or worked less than 6-2/3 innings in his previous six starts, started leaving everything up and the Giants took batting practice.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Shinnosuke Abe drilled a high slider to the gap in left for a three-run double. Luis Gonzalez hit another high one to plate Abe with an RBI single that made it 6-2.

"I wasn't able to suck it up. There's no excuse for that," said Ishikawa, who squandered a two-run lead.

The Swallows scored on second-inning doubles by Aaron Guiel and Yuichi Matsumoto. With two outs, Greisinger sawed off Masakazu Fukukawa's bat, but both barrel and ball bounced toward Kimura. More used to second base than third, Kimura dodged the bat but missed the ball.

Kimura, however, helped ignite the big five-run rally after Alex Ramirez homered in the fourth to halve the Swallows' lead.

Leading off the top of the fifth, Kimura singled and was sacrificed to second by Greisinger. Removing the likelihood of a double play paid off when three pitches later Ishikawa speared a chopper through the box.

Sakamoto then somehow managed to lift a low sinker to center for an RBI single and the southpaw committed suicide by hanging slider.

The Swallows got a run back in the bottom of the inning when lightning once more found Kimura.

"I was thinking, 'You've got to be joking,'" Kimura said. "One can't use bad hops as an excuse, but what can you do?"

After the sixth inning, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara moved Kimura out of harm's way to second base in a defensive upgrade.

"Was that a relief," Kimura said.

In addition to being swept, the Swallows deactivated star outfielder Norichika Aoki before the game with pain in his rib cage.


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