Wirfin Obispo picked up the first win of his Japanese baseball career Thursday night as the Yomiuri Giants padded their lead at the top of the Central League with a 4-1 victory over the Hiroshima Carp at Tokyo Dome.
Obispo (1-0), a Dominican right-hander in his third year in Japan, outdueled another righty, American Colby Lewis, as the Giants improved to 41-21-6 on the season. Obispo allowed one run--a solo homer--on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked a pair.
Giants relievers Kiyoshi Toyoda, Daisuke Ochi and Tetsuya Yamaguchi held the Carp without a hit the rest of the way. Yamaguchi worked the ninth, getting pinch-hitter Koichi Ogata on a groundout before striking out Masato Akamatsu and Scott McClain to pick up his second save of the season.
"I tried to go as long as I could, and then I waited for the end result with great anticipation," Obispo said. "My teammates really supported me and (catcher Shinnosuke) Abe called a great game back there. I look forward to my next start and appreciate the manager having confidence in me."
Lewis, a 15-game winner for the Carp last season, saw his record even out at 4-4. The big man from California, who was bothered by a nerve disorder earlier this season, got rocked for four runs on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings as the Giants took two out of three from Hiroshima.
The teams traded runs in the second inning. In the top half, Carp cleanup hitter Kenta Kurihara led off the frame by crushing an Obispo slider 145 meters over the fence in left field for his 10th home run of the season. The ball bounced off a Kirin beer advertising placard featuring Ichiro high above the bleachers, earning Kurihara some free suds for his efforts.
In the bottom half, the Giants benefitted from a controversial call to tie it up. Yoshiyuki Kamei, who was leading off the inning, appeared to hit a foul pop out to catcher Yoshiyuki Ishihara, who caught the ball up against the backstop screen. The home-plate umpire, however, ruled that the ball was trapped against the screen and called no catch, bringing out Carp manager Marty Brown for a quick discussion.
Given a second chance, Kamei then proceeded to line a single to center and stole second before scoring on a Lee Seung Yeop RBI single to left.
The Giants went ahead in the bottom of the third when Alex Ramirez flared a bloop RBI single to score Hayato Sakamoto, who had led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a Tetsuya Matsumoto single. They added another run in the inning when the speedy Matsumoto came home on Kamei's fielder's choice ground out to second.
Sakamoto lashed a run-scoring double into the gap in right-center in the sixth, spelling the end of the night for Lewis. Sakamoto had two doubles on the night with an RBI and is now hitting .352 in the leadoff spot for Tatsunori Hara's club.
Carp newcomer Andy Phillips, a former New York Yankee, had a single and a double on a 2-for-4 night at the plate while Kurihara was 2-for-2 with a home run, a double, a hit-by-pitch and a walk.