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Rob Smaal

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Gonzalez masterful for Giants

by Rob Smaal (May 29, 2009)

Dicky Gonzalez had another solid outing to improve to 5-0 on the season and Michihiro Ogasawara and Shinnosuke Abe each pounded two-run homers as the Yomiuri Giants manhandled the Softbank Hawks 8-2 at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.

Alex Ramirez also homered--a solo shot--and drove in three runs for the Giants, who improved to 4-4 against Pacific League clubs this season.

The loss was the first for the Hawks in interleague play this year. They saw their record fall to 6-1-1 against the Central League.

Right-hander Gonzalez allowed two runs on nine hits through 6 2/3 innings. The native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, struck out four, did not walk a batter and even contributed offensively, with a base hit and a run scored.

Relievers Tetsuya Yamaguchi, Daisuke Ochi and Takuya Fukata limited the Hawks to just one hit the rest of the way.

"I feel very proud," said Gonzalez, who became the first foreign pitcher in Giants history to win his first five starts with the club. "It's unbelievable."

Gonzalez also stretched his consecutive innings pitched without a walk streak to 34 2/3, and he did it in front of his wife and kids, who recently arrived in Japan.

"I love my family and they give me great support, so I'm happy for them, too," said Gonzalez, who played with Yakult from 2004-08. "It was tough being here by myself."

Ogasawara got the bird-bashing under way early, smacking a two-run opposite-field homer to left in the bottom of the first off Hawks starter Tsuyoshi Wada. It was his CL-leading 13th long ball of the year.

In the home half of the third, Gonzalez got the ball rolling again for the Giants when he beat out an infield single that died halfway between the pitcher's mound and third. Gonzalez went from first to third on a double by Hayato Sakamoto then scampered home on a wild pitch by Wada as Yomiuri built a 3-0 lead. Sakamoto would then score on a fielder's choice groundout to short by Ramirez.

In the top of the fourth, Softbank's Hitoshi Tamura lined an RBI single to left off Gonzalez to bring home Yuya Hasegawa, who had doubled hitting in front of Tamura. When Giants first-baseman Lee Seung Yeop subsequently bobbled a groundball off the bat of Wada, the Hawks had the bases loaded with two out, but Gonzalez was able to get the hot-hitting Yuichi Honda on a comebacker to the mound to quell the mini-uprising.

The Giants then added a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning when Abe cranked a Wada delivery over the wall deep to right for a two-run homer, and a sacrifice fly by Ramirez in the fifth bumped the Giants' lead up to 7-1.

Softbank added a run in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by pinch-hitter Arihito Muramatsu and Honda, but Ramirez nullified that with a solo bomb in the bottom of the frame off reliever Yuuki Kume, his eighth of 2009.

Lefty Wada (3-3) took the loss, allowing seven runs on seven hits--including two home runs--in 4 1/3 innings. He whiffed four, walked a pair and threw one wild pitch.


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