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Rob Smaal

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Takahashi tosses gem as Giants crush 'Stars

by Rob Smaal (May 13, 2009)

Tetsuya Matsumoto and Shinnosuke Abe each drove in a pair of runs as the high-flying Yomiuri Giants rolled to their sixth straight win Tuesday, a 5-3 victory over the floundering BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Giants starter Hisanori Takahashi, who whiffed 10 in a 3-2 victory over the BayStars last week at Tokyo Dome, struck out 10 more Yokohama batters Tuesday. The 34-year-old lefty gave up two runs on just four hits and a pair of walks through six innings to improve to 2-0 on the season.

BayStars starter Les Walrond was also in strikeout mode Tuesday night. Walrond, also a left-hander, struck out 11 through seven innings. He allowed three runs on seven hits while walking one and hitting one batter with a pitch.

After Yuuki Yoshimura drew a one-out walk off Takahashi in the bottom of the second, Tatsuhiko Kinjo smoked an RBI double off the fence in right field to give the home team an early lead.

But the Giants struck for three runs in the fifth to swing the momentum in their favor. Lee Seung Yeop led off with a single off Walrond and Abe got a free pass when he was hit by a pitch from the American left-hander. With two out, Giants pitcher Takahashi helped his own cause with a sharp single to left to load the bases for leadoff hitter Hayato Sakamoto, one of the hottest hitters in the league right now.

Sakamoto hit a comebacker that should have gotten the BayStars out of the inning, but Walrond bobbled the ball and Sakamoto was credited with an RBI single to make it 1-1. The next batter, Matsumoto, proceeded to flare a two-run bloop single to left just out of the reach of diving shortstop Takehiro Ishikawa.

Yoshimura drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to right field in the sixth to cut the margin to 3-2, but Abe's two-run double in the eighth inning off 46-year-old reliever Kimiyasu Kudo made it 5-2 for the Giants, effectively turning out the lights on the struggling BayStars.

Yokohama cleanup hitter Shuichi Murata led off the bottom of the ninth by crushing a Daisuke Ochi delivery right out of the stadium for his third homer of the season, and Yoshimura also doubled in the inning, but it was too little, too late and Ochi picked up his fifth save.

Nineteen-year-old second baseman Daisuke Nakai made his debut for the Giants, and it was one he'd rather forget. Walrond struck out the overmatched Nakai three times before he was mercifully removed from the game by skipper Tatsunori Hara on a night that featured the cast of the baseball television series-movie "Rookies" on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Elsewhere in the CL, Hanshin slugger Tomoaki Kanemoto provided the fireworks at Koshien Stadium with a bottom-of-the ninth inning sayonara home run as the Tigers edged the Hiroshima Carp 1-0. At Nagaragawa Stadium in Gifu Prefecture, the Chunichi Dragons defeated the Yakult Swallows 6-3.

In the Pacific League, the Nippon-Ham Fighters hammered the Rakuten Eagles 8-1 at Kleenex Stadium. The Lotte Marines beat the Softbank Hawks 2-1 at Yahoo Dome, and at Skymark Stadium, the Seibu Lions outlasted the Orix Buffaloes 6-5.


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