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John E. Gibson

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Giants' Takahashi engineers fish kill

by John E. Gibson (Aug 17, 2008)

Yomiuri starter Hisanori Takahashi wasn't sharp early but in the end, he sliced up the Hiroshima Carp pretty well on Saturday.

The southpaw allowed a run in the first inning, but rebounded to retire 17 straight at one point as Yomiuri cooled off the Carp 4-1 before 44,028 at Tokyo Dome.

Coming off a career-high 14-win season, Takahashi (5-3) has been shaky in a year with high expectations for the defending Central League champions.

He got some defensive help, when Yoshitomo Tani threw a runner out at third base to slow the Carp, and found a way to regroup.

"I didn't know how the night was going to go with that first inning," said Takahashi, who yielded four hits and two walks, while fanning seven on 97 pitches over 6-2/3 innings.

"But Tani made a great play to get the runner at third and that gave me a boost," said Takahashi, who left with two on in the seventh.

"I kept missing the plate with offspeed pitches in the first inning. But from the second inning on, I just used my fastball as my main pitch and was able to get things straightened out."

Takahashi also got a shot in the arm for his first win since July 19 with some early run support.

The second-place Giants ripped three solo home runs--including one by Alex Ramirez, who cracked his league-leading 32nd to put the Giants ahead in the third inning.

"When I hit it, I didn't think the ball was going out, but it carried out," Ramirez said.

"Just to be able to hit a home run to put us ahead is a great feeling," said Ramirez, whose blast helped Yomiuri improve to 6-9 against the fourth-place Carp.

On the mound, Kiyoshi Toyoda got Takahashi out of a sixth-inning jam and Tetsuya Yamaguchi set up closer Marc Kroon, who slammed the door in the ninth for his 28th save.

Hiroshima, looking to reach .500 for the first time since July 9, saw its winning streak snapped at three.

The Carp got on the board in the opening inning, thanks to a strong first at-bat by Alex Ochoa.

After Masato Akamatsu's one-out single to center, Ochoa battled Takahashi for a nine-pitch walk. Kenta Kurihara followed with an RBI single to right for the game's first run, but Tani--with help from a strong relay throw--gunned down Ochoa at third.

Takahashi escaped the inning without further damage, and the Giants got even in the second.

Hayato Sakamoto doubled with one out, and Takahiro Suzuki served a half-liner into left field to make it 1-1.

The Giants flexed their muscles to get on top. Ramirez hit a drive to right that kept carrying until it reached the seats, breaking the tie for a 2-1 Yomiuri lead.

The shot, his fifth against Hiroshima this year, added to his league-high total of 92 RBIs.

Takuya Kimura added a run with a solo blast--his fifth--that signaled the end for Carp starter Junpei Shinoda (1-2).

The lefty was making his first since being dropped to the farm team for getting no outs in a June 6 game against Chiba Lotte in which he walked three and gave up a hit before getting lifted.


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