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Rob Smaal

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Houlton, Hawks hold off Giants

by Rob Smaal (May 28, 2009)

The high-flying Softbank Hawks rode the arm of starter D.J. Houlton and a balanced offensive attack to a 5-3 victory Wednesday over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

With the win, the Hawks improved their unbeaten interleague record to 6-0-1, the best mark in the league.

Houlton (3-3) worked six scoreless innings, giving up just three hits while whiffing five, and four different players drove in runs for Softbank. Houlton walked one and hit one batter with a pitch.

Tadashi Settsu worked the seventh for Softbank, striking out all three batters he faced to preserve a 5-0 lead. Brian Falkenborg then took over for the eighth, and he gave up three hits, including Alex Ramirez's two-run single.

The Giants cut into the lead some more in the ninth off Takahiro Mahara.

Yoshiyuki Kamei greeted the Hawks' closer with a solo homer to deep right and pinch-hitter Yoshitomo Tani came within two feet of homering as well, instead settling for a double off the fence in center.

But Mahara was able to get Takahito Kudo to ground out before striking out Hayato Sakamoto to end it and pick up his ninth save of the season.

Leading the Hawks offense was leadoff-hitter Yuichi Honda, who was 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, and Hiroki Kokubo, who went 3-for-5 and drove in a run.

"Houlton was pitching so well and holding the Giants scoreless so it was a good thing that we were able to break through," said Honda. "I feel great being able to contribute with four hits tonight."

The Hawks drew first blood in the top half of the third, when Honda hit a two-out double off the wall in left field off Giants starter Seth Greisinger and Munenori Kawasaki followed up with an RBI triple to right-center just out of the reach of outfielder Kamei to make it 1-0.

An inning later, Softbank tacked on two more runs.

With two men on, Yuya Hasegawa slashed an RBI single to right and Hidenori Tanoue later hammered a sacrifice fly to left field to put Softbank ahead 3-0.

The Hawks manufactured another run in the fifth when Kokubo singled home a run with two on and two out. That was it for Greisinger, who was replaced by Yuya Kubo.

Kubo proceeded to walk Hasegawa to load the bases, then uncorked a wild pitch to allow another run to score.

Greisinger saw his record fall to 5-4. The American right-hander lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out a pair of batters.

The Hawks out-hit the Central League-leading Giants and their high-powered offense 13-8 on the night. Yomiuri fell to 3-4 in interleague play.


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