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Sugiuchi wings past Lions

by John E. Gibson (Jul 9, 2008)

In a game spiced up with wacky plays, errors and a touch of tension, Toshiya Sugiuchi helped the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks simmer down and get a win.

The left-hander tossed his fifth complete game, scattering six hits with no walks and a hit batter to beat the Pacific League's front-running Saitama Seibu Lions 4-2 on Tuesday before 13,486 at Seibu Dome.

The third-place Hawks--who stopped their longest skid in nine years at seven on Sunday--won their second straight to move back to .500, and are five games behind the Lions, three in back of Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Other than a high popup that somehow fell in for an RBI double, Sugiuchi (7-5) kept the hard-hitting Lions caged, retiring the last 13 to close it out.

"I gave up too many hits early in the game, but I was able to hang in there," said Sugiuchi, who fanned seven.

"I know they have good lineup, so I just wanted to go after them--making sure not to walk guys and not put guys on base.

"I know they're a tough team and they're out in front of [the PL], and we just ended a losing streak, so I'm very happy to have a game like this today," said Sugiuchi, who won for the first time since beating Yokohama on June 14.

SoftBank skipper Sadaharu Oh had seen a lot of opposition runners crossing home plate during the skid, but said his team's effort in the first of two games here was ideal.

"Sugiuchi was great tonight," said Oh. "Our pitchers had been giving up a lot of runs recently. For him to throw [117] pitches like that with the stuff he had, it was nice to see."

But the Hawks also did the job on offense.

Munenori Kawasaki went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, and Michael Restovich was 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead a 10-hit attack.

"Restovich did a good job helping us string hits together, and the lineup got the job done tonight. But we have to play like this every night," Oh said. "We're behind in the standings, so we have to use offense and defense to catch up."

Seibu starter Kazuhisa Ishii had pitched a grand total of seven innings over his last three starts, allowing 16 runs (15 earned) since June 11.

Ishii (7-5) lasted longer against the Hawks, but didn't get much defensive help.

Ishii himself had an error on a short toss that could have been scooped by first baseman Taketoshi Goto, but wasn't. Goto, in his second game at first this season, also missed a catchable ball that went for an error on shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. With two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, two runs scored, giving SoftBank a 3-1 lead.

The Lions got to within a run, but SoftBank added a run in the seventh, failing to push two across because of a veteran play from Seibu catcher Toru Hosokawa.

With Kenji Akashi on first, Nakanishi doubled to left. The relay throw came a little late, but Hosokawa blocked the plate with his leg as Akashi slid by. When the runner tried to sneak back and touch the plate, Hosokawa put the glove on his helmet to record the out.

Oh argued throughout the changeover and spent five minutes barking at the umpires before heading back to the bench.


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