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John E. Gibson

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Hosokawa, Lions eclipse 'Stars

by John E. Gibson (Jun 4, 2008)

The Pacific League's front-running Saitama Seibu Lions on Tuesday packed a ho-hum victory with a powerful punch.

PL triple-crown threat G.G. Sato went 2-for-4 with his league-leading 16th homer, and Toru Hosokawa stayed hot with two hits--including one of the Lions' three longballs--and three RBIs in a 7-3 win over Yokohama in interleague action at Seibu Dome.

Sato, also tied for third in the PL in RBIs with 43, raised his league-leading average four points to .347 as the Lions stopped a three-game interleague losing streak to Yokohama that dates back to last season.

But it was Hosokawa, who drove in five runs in Sunday's 10-3 win over Chunichi, whose clutch two-run single in the fourth inning gave the Lions the lead for good.

"Everyone in front of me was hitting and I just got momentum from them," Hosokawa said. "I focused on going back through the box and I'm glad things worked out the way I'd planned," said Hosokawa, who exuded the kind of confidence Seibu is playing with now.

"The day before yesterday I told the fans that we'd win back-to-back games, and we'll win tomorrow, too."

The offense backed 36-year-old Fumiya Nishiguchi (2-3), who won for the first time this season at Seibu Dome. The righty weaved his way through six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks, while fanning six to win his second straight decision.

"Nishiguchi's fastball was really on tonight so we just stuck with it," said batterymate Hosokawa.

Seibu skipper Hisanobu Watanabe spread the credit for the win around while praising Nishiguchi.

"Our starting pitcher kept us in the game and our offense got some runs early, and it was really the ideal kind of game for us," said Watanabe.

"The lineup strung some hits together and put some runs on the board when we really needed them, and really backed our starter well. [Nishiguchi] pitched well. I look forward to seeing more good things from him."

Meanwhile, the Central League's last-place BayStars, who came in having allowed the most runs in the CL, couldn't keep Seibu away from home plate.

The Lions flexed their muscles to open the scoring. Takeya Nakamura took Yokohama starter Yasuhiro Oyamada (1-3) deep to left for his 11th homer, a solo shot to make it 1-0.

"I got jammed a little bit, but I went up there to swing hard and it went out," Nakamura said.

Yuki Yoshimura, who had two homers, punished a Nishiguchi hanger, keeping his low line drive just fair down the left-field line for a solo shot that evened things at 1-1 in the top of the fourth.

But Seibu came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to retake the lead. Hosokawa went up the middle with a two-out single that plated Craig Brazell and Sato, who had both singled.

The Lions padded their lead when Hiroyuki Nakajima doubled to the gap in right-center and came home on Brazell's second base hit in as many at-bats for a 5-2 advantage.

Yoshimura destroyed a forkball from Nishiguchi with one out in the sixth for his 14th of the year. The long drive cleared the seats and bounced on the walkway behind the bleachers to cut Seibu's lead to 5-3.

Hosokawa, though, got that run back quickly in the home half, bashing his ninth homer of season to open the frame and restore Seibu's three-run lead.

"I got a curve and my body was just able to react to it," Hosokawa said.


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