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Kamei clubs Swallows again

by Jim Allen (Aug 10, 2009)

Yoshiyuki Kamei didn't wait until the last minute to settle this one.

A day after hitting his third sayonara home run of the season, Kamei's two-run, seventh-shot broke up a scoreless pitching duel on Sunday at Tokyo Dome and the Yomiuri Giants beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2-0.

Kamei said he didn't know when asked if he was in a groove after his fifth homer of the month.

"I don't know," he said. "But if I'm hot, I want to stay hot."

With two outs and a man on first, Kamei hit Yoshinori Sato's 96th pitch of the day into the right-field stands for his 17th homer of the season and his fifth of the month to help complete a three-game sweep.

Sato, who allowed six hits and struck out seven without walking a batter, gave up a two-out single to Alex Ramirez that just got through the infield.

After getting ahead 0-2 on low fastballs, Sato missed outside on a couple of pitches. Kamei fouled off a fastball away before Sato hung a 2-2 forkball inside. Sato said it was the first time he'd ever thrown one in a game.

"The instant I hit it, I felt it was a fat pitch," he said.

"I know Yoshinori throws mostly fastballs and sliders, and in that situation I was mostly just thinking fastball and beware of the breaking pitch.

"My body reacted to it really well, so I was able to turn on it. After watching the replay on TV, I see it was a tougher pitch than I thought."

Southpaw Hisanori Takahashi worked 6-2/3 innings for the Giants, pitching out of trouble repeatedly to keep the game scoreless, and Daisuke Ochi (6-2) retired all four batters he faced to get the win. Marc Kroon put two runners on and had the potential tying run at second base, but worked out of trouble for his 13th save.

"It looked like he [Takahashi] was very comfortable with a very good arm action," Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. "Six and two-thirds, no runs? I call that nice pitching.

"Ochi has had his ups and downs. Everybody does. But whether he's 'back' or not, he has a job to do, and he knows it. To most people, Ochi equals good fastball and forkball. But when he shows you the curve and a slider and comes at you low and away and high and inside, he's a handful."

The Giants' pitching needed to be good because the 19-year-old Sato gave them next to nothing, allowing two hits over the first five innings and erasing both runners on the bases.

The Giants nearly got a run in the sixth on a single by Takahiro Suzuki a sacrifice by Takahashi and a two-out single by Hayato Sakamoto.

Suzuki appeared to beat a good throw from center fielder Norichika Aoki, but was blocked off the side of the plate by catcher Ryoji Aikawa. Suzuki slid toward the front of the plate, and appeared to touch home before being tagged, but was called out.

"We didn't really have any chances," Hara said. "Their pitcher had great stuff and their defense made the plays. That makes it awfully hard to score."

Ramirez and Kamei accounted for four of the Giants' six hits against Sato, although Kamei swung and missed on a pitch that saw Ramirez caught stealing on a busted hit and run in the second inning.

"If I were him, I would probably think that with a 2-2 count, a forkball in that location is a pitch he should hit. And that's what he did," Hara said of Kamei.

"In the end, he got his hits, but they got him out earlier. So he has some things to consider. "

The loss the third-place Swallows to their fifth straight loss. Yakult fell 7-1/2 games behind the Central League-leading Giants.

Three times they had a chance to break onto the scoreboard first, but failed. The third time, the lead runner was picked off and run down between second and third.

"Home plate was just too far away for us," Swallows manager Shigeru Takada said. "When you lose, the games look like this. Losses occur because you are not doing things precisely."


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