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John E. Gibson

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Lions chew up, spit out Swallows

by John E. Gibson (Jun 4, 2009)

The Seibu Lions have been subpar against the Pacific League, but they are eating up the best the Central League has to offer.

The Lions pounded Tokyo Yakult 8-1 behind Hiram Bocachica's grand slam and Hideaki Wakui's five-hit gem on Wednesday to a complete a two-game interleague sweep of the second-place Swallows and improve to 3-0-1 against the CL's top two teams.

The win came on the heels of a 12-inning tie and an extra-inning victory against CL leader Yomiuri over the weekend, and featured Seibu's second slam in as many nights. The Lions, in fourth in the PL, won their fourth straight and moved to within a game of .500.

"We pitched the way we needed to and scored runs like we can. All in all, it was our kind of game from the start," said Seibu skipper Hisanobu Watanabe.

"Wakui's pitches were up in the zone early in the game but I thought he did a good job of keeping them off the scoreboard. After we got a five-run lead with Bocachica's grand slam, I figured we'd be able to hold onto the lead."

Bocachica, who struggled in May, doubled and scored in the third inning and broke the game open by cracking his 12th longball in the fourth.

"In that situation in the past, I've tried to do too much," said Bocachica, whose slam in front of 16,181 at Seibu Dome was his second in his one-plus seasons with the Lions.

"I just wanted to put the ball in play. Tonight I wanted to prove that I'm better than I've been this past month."

Seibu, last year's Japan Series champion, made the best of nine hits, clubbing a pair of homers to back Wakui (6-2), who didn't allow a runner to reach third base until the ninth inning, when Yakult spoiled his chance at a shutout.

"My pitches were up in the first two innings, but I was able to straighten myself out after Bocachica's home run. Once I got the runs, I just relaxed and settled into a groove," Wakui said.

The right-hander, who fanned nine (four looking), walked two and hit a batter. He also pitched through an error and his only real jam in the ninth inning for his third complete game of the season.

er Masao Kida (3-3) was sharp early but faded after he surrendered a run in the third. He gave up five hits, a walk and a hit batter with no strikeouts.


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