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John E. Gibson

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Gonzalez hunts Hawks to win 5 in row

by John E. Gibson (May 29, 2009)

Yomiuri's Dicky "Goose Egg" Gonzalez wasn't able to string zeroes across the scoreboard during his 6-2/3 innings, but the right-hander has a big fat zero where it matters most: the loss column.

Gonzalez (5-0) frustrated the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, scattering nine hits while walking none and fanning four to win his fifth straight start 8-2 before 42,218 at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.

The Puerto Rican became the club's first import pitcher to debut by winning his first five games and has no walks in 34-2/3 innings.

Gonzalez--who spent a mediocre four seasons with the Yakult Swallows before being cast off--snapped SoftBank's six-game winning streak, which began in interleague play.

But the talk after the game was focused on his streak, which includes two seven-inning scoreless stints.

"I feel very proud and I found out yesterday I have a chance to break this record. It's unbelievable," said Gonzalez, who lowered his ERA to 1.56.

"I've got a great team with a great catcher and great coaches," said Gonzalez, who started the season on the farm and got the call when Yomiuri's rotation started to falter. "For me, I just want to work hard, doing what I have to do--I want to give 100 percent."

Said Yomiuri catcher Shinnosuke Abe: "He seemed really pumped up."

The Central League-leading Giants got three home runs in scoring eight runs on nine hits. Abe went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer that helped the Giants win despite being outhit.

The Hawks, third in the Pacific League, didn't get a strong effort from starter Tsuyoshi Wada (3-3). He got the hook in the fifth inning after allowing seven runs on seven hits and two walks.

"Wada left a lot of pitches up in the zone," said first-year skipper Koji Akiyama.

The Giants made a quick deposit off the SoftBank lefty in the opening frame. Michihiro Ogasawara belted his league-leading 13th longball, an opposite-field floater with a man aboard that gave Yomiuri a 2-0 lead.

Yomiuri stretched the lead when Gonzalez, who led off the third with an infield single, came home on a wild pitch. Alex Ramirez's groundout plated Hayato Sakamoto to make it 4-0 Giants.

Gonzalez didn't give the Hawks a chance to put together a rally, retiring the leadoff runner over his first six innings. But SoftBank used three two-out hits to scratch out a run in the fourth.

Yuya Hasegawa doubled down the line in left and Hitoshi Tamura, who went 4-for-4, followed with a liner that fell inches in front of Ramirez's outstretched glove for an RBI single.

The Giants came back with a no-doubter home run from Abe, his ninth, in the bottom of the fourth

"It was the hardest hit ball I've had all season," Abe said. "I hit one like that maybe once a year."

Ramirez, who had three RBIs, cracked his eighth homer in the seventh, a solo blast that gave him a hit in 11 straight games and closed out the scoring.


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