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Carp knock around Nakamura / Welcome new Giants' reliever to CL with 2 HRs, blown save; Eagles soar

by Jim Allen (Apr 5, 2009)

Kenta Kurihara's three-run, eighth-inning homer spoiled Micheal Nakamura's Central League debut and the Hiroshima Carp came from behind to win at Tokyo Dome on Saturday.

With the help of some sharp defense, starter Kenta Maeda allowed two runs in seven innings, and Kurihara clubbed the game winner in a 5-3 victory that saw the Carp improve to 2-0 on the season.

Nakamura, acquired in a big November trade from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, inherited a 2-1 lead in the eighth and retired the first two batters he saw.

A walk and a hit batsman, however, brought Kurihara to the plate in Hiroshima's best scoring opportunity of the night. The cleanup man delivered a game-reversing blast well back into the left-field stands.

"That worked out great. The opportunity came my way, and I knew it was the last time the No. 4 spot would come up," Kurihara said.

Scott Seabol then homered for the second straight night to put the Carp up 5-2.

"It is what it is," Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said of his new setup man. "He [Nakamura] walked a guy, hit a guy, and then, 'wham.'

"He's a key for the Giants in those eighth-inning situations, so we're going to let him get the job done."

The Giants, who took a 2-0 lead in the second on homers by Lee Seung Yeop and Shinnosuke Abe, could have put this game away behind starter Tetsuya Utsumi, who allowed a run on two hits in 6-2/3 innings.

The lefty gave his fielders an easy night of it with a slew of easy outs off the Carp bats.

The Giants hit some well-placed grounders off Maeda, but the Hiroshima defense kept the wheels from falling off the wagon.

With Maeda out of the game for a pinch-hitter in the eighth, the Giants scored against the bullpen.

Yoshiyuki Kamei singled off new right-hander Mike Schultz and Alex Ramirez's two-out single off side-armer Tomohiro Umetsu plated one run. A double by Lee and a walk to Abe off right-hander Ryuji Yokoyama loaded the bases, but third baseman Shogo Kimura put out the fire on a tough grounder.

"Kimura Shogo made a great play. We feel really good about our defense late in the game," Brown said.

Closer Katsuhiro Nagakawa allowed a double in the ninth but no runs for his second save.

Utsumi retired the first eight Carp batters with little trouble only to see Maeda break that run with a third-inning double.

The Giants could have lucked into a rally in the top of the third, but shortstop Eishin Soyogi stopped it before it got started. Soyogi went to his right and threw out leadoff manb Kamei from the hole.

He then sprinted between the mound and second to throw out speedster Takahiro Suzuki with an off-balance throw. Kurihara then made a nice stop at first to make it a 1-2-3 inning.

The Giants had more chances, but each time the Carp fielders pulled the rug out from under them.

"It doesn't feel good, but we'll come back tomorrow, take stock and give it our best," Hara said.


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