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Rob Smaal

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Sato gets payback

by Rob Smaal (May 23, 2008)

G.G. Sato didn't appreciate getting hit with pitches twice on Thursday evening. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Seibu slugger took it out on Mr. Spalding--make that Mr. Mizuno--with a two-run homer in the Lions' 7-2 victory over the Yakult Swallows at Seibu Dome.

Sato, who had a three-ribbie night, helped right-hander Hideaki Wakui pick up his fifth win with a solid outing on the mound for Seibu. Wakui improved his record this season to 5-3 with nine innings of two-run, 10-hit ball. The Seibu workhorse threw 140 pitches and struck out five in his fourth complete game of the season for manager Hisanobu Watanabe's club.

"Even though Wakui gave up a run in the first inning, I thought he still had decent stuff," Watanabe said. "They managed to hit a couple of flares but I never really felt like he was getting hit hard."

Offensively, Yasuyuki Kataoka was a one-man wrecking crew for the Pacific League-leading Lions, going 3-for-5 at the plate with a double, two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base.

Takumi Kuriyama drove in a pair of runs for the Leos, belting a sacrifice fly to tie the game 1-1 in the third inning and stroking an RBI double to left-center in the fourth to make it 4-1.

Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima drove in a run, drew two walks and stole a pair of bases for Seibu.

Yakult starter Kyohei Muranaka (3-5) took the loss. The third-year lefty allowed five runs on four hits in four innings of work. He struck out four, walked three and also hit Sato twice with pitches, the second time with the bases loaded in the third inning to give Seibu a 2-1 lead. While Sato sold the call by clutching his foot with a pained grimace on his face, television replays showed that the low pitch may have, in fact, narrowly missed him.

Sato blasted his bomb to left off reliever Jun Hagiwara two batters after Nakajima had drawn a walk in the seventh. It was Sato's 12th home run of the season.

Swallows DH Kazuhiro Hatakeyama hit a bloop RBI single to right in the first inning and Brazil-born Yuuichi Matsumoto hit a sacrifice fly to left in the fifth to account for Yakult's two runs.

Each team had 10 hits on the night.

Seibu solidified its lead in the PL standings, improving to 30-17-1 with the win while Yakult dropped to 20-22 in the CL.

The Swallows-Lions contest was the only NPB game on the slate Thursday. Yakult edged the Lions 5-4 on Wednesday, also in Saitama.(IHT/Asahi: May 23,2008)


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