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Rob Smaal

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Utsumi goes distance in rout of Swallows

by Rob Smaal (Jun 29, 2009)

The "fake samurai" certainly looked like the real deal on Sunday afternoon.

Tetsuya Utsumi struck out 10 batters over the distance and Lee Seung Yeop walloped a three-run homer as the Yomiuri Giants put a little distance between themselves and the Swallows with a 7-1 victory over Yakult at Tokyo Dome.

The Central League-leading Giants improved to 39-20-6 on the season by taking two out of three from the second-place Swallows, increasing their lead over their crosstown rivals to three games.

Michihiro Ogasawara chipped in offensively with an RBI triple and a run-scoring double on a 3-for-4 day at the plate for Yomiuri and hot-hitting shortstop Hayato Sakamoto also had three hits to boost his average to .355.

Utsumi (3-5), derided in the press by manager Tatsunori Hara as a "dame samurai" after a few shaky starts following his stint with Samurai Japan in the World Baseball Classic, was firing on all cylinders Sunday. The sixth-year left-hander allowed just four hits--including an eighth-inning solo home run by Swallows catcher Ryoji Aikawa--and he did not walk a batter in his 122-pitch outing.

"I'm happy I was able to go all the way today and give our bullpen a day off," Utsumi said. "I just took it one batter at a time and tried to pitch my game, and it worked out well today."

Lee's home run, a three-run shot to right in a four-run sixth off Swallows starter Masanori Ishikawa, was his 15th of the season and his third in the last three games.

"I'm just trying to get a hit every game, but if I hit home runs, so much the better," Lee said. "With runners on first and third, I was just thinking sacrifice fly, but instead I was able to hit the ball out."

The Giants also scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Ramirez in the first inning, one batter after Ogasawara's RBI triple eluded a diving Norichika Aoki in center field, and veteran Yoshitomo Tani belted an RBI triple of his own to open the scoring in the sixth.

Ishikawa, another lefty, took the loss as his record fell to 7-4. Ishikawa gave up six runs on 10 hits through six innings. He whiffed three and walked one.

The Swallows, who have been playing some scrappy baseball over the past few weeks, had a man thrown out at the plate in the fourth inning when Aoki hit a ground ball to second. In the fifth, Aaron Guiel was tagged out at third when he overslid the base as he tried to go first-to-third on a Shinya Miyamoto single to right.


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