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John E. Gibson

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Ishii too good for Hawks

by John E. Gibson (Apr 30, 2009)

Kazuhisa Ishii was as good as gold to start the spring holiday period.

The veteran left-hander carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning Wednesday before 28,855 at Seibu Dome, and won his first game of the season as the Saitama Seibu Lions drubbed the hapless Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 7-2.

Ishii, who matched the shortest outing in his career when he lasted just one inning in his previous start, kicked off Golden Week by stifling the Hawks on two hits and three walks with seven strikeouts over six-plus, one-run innings.

"I wasn't very good in the first inning of my last start, so I just wanted to have a lot of intensity from the first inning," said Ishii (1-2), who got knocked around for five runs in the opening frame against Orix on April 22.

Hiram Bocachica backed the lefty with a pair of solo blasts, and Takumi Kuriyama went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer that capped a five-run seventh inning as the Lions buried the Pacific League's fifth-place Hawks.

But the story was Ishii, who had the Hawks flailing from the start.

"He was focused from the opening inning, throwing strikes to get ahead in the count and finding a good rhythm," Seibu manager Hisanobu Watanabe said. "There's isn't anything [negative] to say about him today."

Bocachica was the game's first runner in the third inning and he was able to jog after blasting his sixth homer, a mammoth shot to center field. The Puerto Rican went deep to left-center in his next at-bat in the fifth.

"I've been in a slump and I've been working hard to get out of it," said Bocachica, who has seven homers. "Today was a good game, and tomorrow I'll come back and try to do it again."

Ishii ran into a bit of a jam in the fourth inning. He walked Yuichi Honda to open the frame and couldn't field Munenori Kawasaki's sacrifice bunt for an error that put two on with no outs. But he came back with two strikeouts sandwiched around a groundout to stomp out that threat.

Kawasaki socked a double down the left-field line with two outs in the sixth inning to break up the no-hitter, and Ishii walked the next two to load the bases. But Yuya Hasegawa, who entered the game hitting .419 in 74 at-bats, took a called third strike to end the frame.

Ishii departed after Jose Ortiz doubled to open the seventh inning.

Meanwhile, loser D.J. Houlton made the two mistakes to Bocachica but was otherwise sharp. Houlton got saddled with the loss after going 6-2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks, while fanning seven. He was a victim of poor defense in the seventh when Hiroshi Shibahara kicked a ball and made a throwing error that allowed the third run to score.


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