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Gonzalez foils Fighters, ties legend Sawamura

by Jim Allen (Jun 6, 2009)

Dicky Gonzalez is in complete control.

For the sixth time in six starts, the new Giant walked no batters and walked away a winner as Central League-leading Yomiuri whacked the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 5-2 in interleague play at Tokyo Dome.

"I just want to make guys swing," said the 30-year-old, who has not issued a walk in 41-1/3 innings. He struck out a season-high seven, while allowing two runs on seven hits in 6-2/3 innings.

"I know they're going to swing because they know I'm going to throw strikes. I'm getting good run support, good defense; I'm not worried to throw strikes."

By opening the season with six wins in six games, Gonzalez equaled the team record set by the legendary Eiji Sawamura in 1936's autumn season and the mark for foreign pitchers set by Leo Kiely with the 1953 Mainichi Orions.

The Giants jumped out to a big lead when the Fighters gambled on defense in the top of the first and paid the price. Playing to cut off the first run at the plate with no outs and runners on the corners, Fighters southpaw Shugo Fuji (4-3) was floored instead by a four-run haymaker.

An infield single and an unusually aggressive first-inning hit-and-run by Giants manager Tatsunori Hara put runners on the corners. With the infield playing tight, Michihiro Ogasawara's sharp grounder to the right of the second base bag got through for an RBI single.

Instead of giving up a run to get two outs, the Fighters simply gave the Giants more bullets to fire at them, and the hosts happily obliged.

On the next play, second baseman Kensuke Tanaka dropped a potential doubleplay grounder, getting only a force at second and gifting Alex Ramirez an RBI as the run scored.

Two more singles loaded the bases, and Ramirez scored on a sacrifice fly by Shinnosuke Abe. Noriyoshi Omichi, starting his first game of the season, singled in a run to cap the rally.

Fujii, formerly Gonzalez's teammate with Yakult, allowed four runs on eight hits and a walk in three innings.

Atsunori Inaba helped the Pacific League leaders get back in the game, singling home a run in the third and homering in the fifth.

"They have a good lineup. They come to swing," Gonzalez said. "You know it's not going to be easy. That's why I threw a lot of pitches, working around a lot of good hitters."

The Giants tacked on a run in the bottom of the seventh off former teammate Masanori Hayashi, who was traded to the Fighters last November.

Tetsuya Yamaguchi finished the seventh for the Giants, while Daisuke Ochi worked the eighth and Marc Kroon pitched the ninth to record his ninth save of the season.

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Tateyama wins 13th straight

Shohei Tateyama allowed three hits over seven innings to extend his franchise record with his 13th straight victory as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows defeated the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles 9-3 at Jingu Stadium.

Tateyama (7-0), who began his streak in August of last season, gave up two runs in becoming the first Yakult pitcher to win his first seven starts of the season since Kojiro Suzuki won eight straight in 1978. He struck out one and walked one.

Shinya Miyamoto hit a solo homer and Keizo Kawashima added a two-run shot for the Swallows.


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