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Rob Smaal

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Aikawa saves day

by Rob Smaal (Aug 5, 2009)

The Yakult Swallows got it done Tuesday night--the hard way.

After All-Star closer Lim Chang Yong blew a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning by giving up a pinch-hit solo home run to Shigeru Morikasa, Swallows catcher Ryoji Aikawa came through with a game-winning RBI double off the wall in left in the top of the 10th to give Yakult a 5-4 win over the BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.

Reliever Atsushi Kizuka, who gave up Aikawa's RBI double, ended up taking the loss.

Ironically, while Lim did blow the save he ended up getting credit for the win, improving to 4-1 on the season. Ryota Igarashi worked a 1-2-3 10th to get the save.

Swallows infielder Jamie D'Antona hammered a tie-breaking solo home run in the top of the eighth inning to give the Swallows a 4-3 lead that looked like it would stand up with Lim entering the game. It was D'Antona's second home run in August and his team-leading 19th of the season. He already has five RBIs this month after hitting over .400 in July with 25 RBIs last month.

Swallows left-hander Masanori Ishikawa allowed three runs (two earned) on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings. Ishikawa fanned six and walked one.

Kenichi Matsuoka finished off the eighth for Ishikawa before closer Lim came on for the ninth.

Yokohama right-hander Hayato Terahara got the start for the BayStars. He allowed all four runs on nine hits through eight innings of work.

The Swallows got to Terahara early, with Kazuki Fukuchi and Aaron Guiel each connecting for RBI singles in the first inning for a quick 2-0 lead.

Yokohama got one of those runs back in the second when Tatsuhiko Kinjo sent an RBI double into left field with two out and two men on off Yakult lefty Ishikawa.

They tied it in the fourth, thanks in part to some suspect defense by Yakult. With Kazuya Fujita on base after his second single of the night, Shingo Takeyama hit a ground ball to first that D'Antona couldn't handle. The ball skipped off his glove to second baseman Hiroyasu Tanaka, who then threw off line to first, allowing Fujita to take third. Two errors were charged on the play, and 'Stars pitcher Terahara would make sure they were costly when he proceeded to chop a run-scoring single over third base into left field to tie the game 2-2.

Both D'Antona and Tanaka would make run-saving plays later in the inning, and in the seventh, Tanaka would continue to make amends by driving in the run that put the Swallows on top again, albeit very briefly, when he lined an RBI single to right off Terahara.

But Kinjo would lead off the bottom of the seventh by jacking a solo homer 120 meters over the fence in left off Ishikawa and things were all square once more. Kinjo was 3-for-3 with a home run, a double, a walk and two RBIs.

In the eighth, it was D'Antona's turn to do some damage at the plate. After striking out twice and grounding out in his first three at-bats, the big man from the Arizona Diamondbacks system finally solved Terahara, clubbing a leadoff solo shot deep into the BayStars cheering section in the right-field bleachers.


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