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Rob Smaal

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Swallows hammer Dragons

by Rob Smaal (Apr 9, 2009)

Aaron Guiel drove in three runs Wednesday night at Jingu Stadium as the Yakult Swallows handed the Chunichi Dragons their first loss of the season.

Guiel slammed a two-run double to right in a four-run fifth inning and added a solo homer an inning later as the Swallows improved to 3-2 on the season with an 8-4 win over the Dragons.

"We battled really hard tonight," said Guiel. "We have a good group of guys, the whole team fights the entire game. This is the type of game we want to play all year."

Norichika Aoki had belted a solo home run of his own earlier in the sixth for Yakult and Ryoji Aikawa contributed a two-run single in the fifth after Guiel's run-scoring double.

Guiel's home run was his second of the season. He went deep 35 times in 2007 before enduring an injury-plagued season last year.

"I feel good at the plate," said Guiel, a former Kansas City Royal and New York Yankee. "I'm trying to make up for a disappointing season last year, prove myself to the team, my manager and the fans."

Newcomer Jamie D'Antona also drove in a run with a sharp line-single to right in the third inning off Dragons starter Kenichi Nakata, who took the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings.

Swallows veteran starter Masao Kida was roughed up in the first inning--both figuratively and literally--giving up a three-run home run to Masahiko Morino, one of five hits he gave up in the opening frame.

Kida also needed medical attention when Chunichi leadoff hitter Masahiro Araki drilled a shot that hit him on the left wrist. But the 40-year-old former major-leaguer settled down after a shaky start and limited the Dragons to no runs on just one hit over the next four innings to pick up the win.

Tony Blanco, the Dragons new cleanup hitter after the retirement of Tyrone Woods this offseason, hit his second home run of the year in the eighth inning, a solo jack off reliever Takehiko Oshimoto.

Kenichi Matsuoka worked a scoreless inning in relief of Kida and was credited with a hold. Lim Chang Yong, the closer for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic, pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to close it out for the Swallows.

The Dragons took Tuesday's series opener 4-3. The rubber game goes tonight, also at Jingu.


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