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Kawashima, relievers lift Swallows

by Jim Allen (Jul 21, 2008)

The Swallows' Keizo Kawashima doesn't mind sounding greedy.

After joining Tokyo Yakult in a January trade, the 24-year-old utility man said he came to hear the Jingu Stadium crowd him on the post-game hero's podium. He got a taste of that on Sunday night after his two-run double tied it and the Swallows went on to beat the Hiroshima Carp 4-3, but it was apparently not enough.

"I'm sorry, it's great but it's not enough," said Kawashima who doubled twice before 27,447 as the Swallows moved to .500 for the first time since May 1.

"You want to hear it from a full crowd. This is not enough. It won't be enough until we are in the race all the way and the stadium is packed."

Kawashima's double tied it 3-3 off Carp veteran Ken Takahashi in the third inning. The lefty battled for all he was worth for seven innings, while Swallows starter Kosuke Matsui worked just four before Yakult's bullpen took over.

Five Swallows relievers worked a scoreless inning each, with Takehiko Oshimoto (2-1) getting the win after Yakult scored off Hirofumi Ueno (0-1) in the bottom of the eighth. It was the first run the right-hander had allowed since June 7.

Kazuki Fukuchi, who had snuffed a second-inning scoring chance when he miss-hit a hanging slider from Takahashi, made amends in the eighth. The former Carp singled off Ueno, stole second on a bounced throw and scored when Shinya Miyamoto's grounder struck the first base bag and dropped politely down the foul line for an RBI single.

A school of Carp pinch-hitters nearly tied it in the ninth, but South Korean side-armer Lim Chang Yong got the job done for his 23rd save. Yakult improved to 7-1-1 over the last nine games, and sweeping three at Jingu left the Carp trailing three games in its wake.

"We have some momentum, but giving up three runs against a tough pitcher like Takahashi was not pretty," said Swallows skipper Shigeru Takada.

Matsui, primarily a reliever throughout his three-year career, was making his second start of the season. Although he was plagued by the home run ball in his first two seasons, he has yet to surrender a homer this year. On Sunday, he kept the Carp out of the seats but couldn't keep them from reaching the scoreboard quickly.

A first-inning leadoff single by Akihiro Higashide, who went 3-for-4, a hit batsman and a double by Shigenobu Shima opened the scoring. Kenta Kurihara singled in another run with no outs, but Matsui got three big outs to keep it close.


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