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Carp wiggle off hook, beat Giants in 10 innings

by Jim Allen (May 18, 2008)

Hiroshima Carp manager Marty Brown said four hard-hit balls were all he wanted from struggling cleanup hitter Kenta Kurihara, and the skipper got them on Saturday.

The fourth one that jumped off Kurihara's bat reached the seats for a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning, lifting Hiroshima into fourth place in the Central League with an 8-5 victory over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome. The Giants, who entered the game in fourth, sank into fifth.

Kurihara's opposite-field shot off Yomiuri reliever Ken Kadokura (0-2) was his fourth homer of the year and second hit of the night. He also lined out and was robbed of a single on a ground smash toward third.

The slugger has been pressing after former No. 4 man Takahiro Arai joined the Hanshin Tigers as a free agent over the winter.

"He's been trying too hard, trying to do too much," Brown said before the game. "So I sat him down on a rainy day and told him I only needed four hard-hit balls a game from him.

"Now he's just battling and trying to put a good swing on the ball."

Carp closer Katsuhiro Nagakawa (2-0) created and pitched out of a jam in the bottom of the ninth, and then snuffed the Giants in the 10th to earn the win.

Brown made the most of the excellent speed on his roster in the ninth, when a one-out double steal helped tie the game 5-5 against closer Marc Kroon and catcher Shinnosuke Abe, whose three RBIs had him poised to be atop the postgame hero's podium.

The lead runner was ruled safe at third, drawing an argument from the battery.

"My father taught me that the element of surprise is the most important thing you can have," Brown said. "I thought it was well worth the risk. Plus it eliminates Kroon's forkball. Because if he misses one, the tying run scores."

The tying run did score, on Akihiro Higashide's two-out grounder through the infield, and only an excellent throw by right fielder Yoshiyuki Kamei cut down the go-ahead run to end the inning at the plate.

Kamei, whose seventh-inning leadoff walk led to the Giants' go-ahead run in the seventh, walked to open the ninth against Nagakawa, but failed to score when cleanup hitter Alex Ramirez grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"The hitters showed a lot of fight tonight," said Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, whose club lost for the second straight night to fall a half-game back of the Carp.

"We need to turn things around, because if we keep going the way we are...."

Kadokura previous loss came against the Carp on April 30, when he staved off a rally in the eighth only to blow the tie in the ninth. Again the tie was not safe in his hands.

The right-hander gave up a leadoff single to Alex Ochoa before Kurihara reached the seats. Two more hits followed off Daisuke Ochi before Eishin Soyogi capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly.

The games' first runs just barely squeaked onto the scoreboard as the starting pitchers, Giants right-hander Seth Greisinger and Carp lefty Junpei Shinoda, duked it out for six innings.

In the top of the third, the Carp drew first blood when leadoff man Masato Akamatsu scored from third on a tough two-out grounder after singling and stealing second.

In the fourth inning, rookie Shinoda got his first taste of Tokyo Dome's shallow power alleys, when Abe lobbed a mortar round to right that just barely cleared the wall for a two-run homer.

Moments after the Giants catcher gave his team the lead with his fourth home run, his Carp counterpart struck back.

Leading off the Hiroshima half of the fifth, Yoshikazu Kura hammered a high 0-1 pitch out of the zone over the left-field wall for his first homer of the year.

Scott Seabol celebrated his 33rd birthday in the top of the sixth with a two-run homer off Greisinger, his former Kia Tigers teammate. The two played together in South Korea in 2006, when Seabol joined the Tigers at midseason.


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