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Rob Smaal

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Swallows' closer Lim implodes in 9th to hand Giants win

by Rob Smaal (Aug 24, 2009)

They say that good teams find ways to win, which would make the Yomiuri Giants a pretty good team.

After Yakult Swallows left-hander Masanori Ishikawa shut out the Giants' potent offense for eight very solid innings on Sunday night at Jingu Stadium, it all unraveled for the home team in spectacular fashion in the ninth as they suffered a demoralizing 2-1 loss.

Nursing a 1-0 lead, the usually reliable Lim Chang Yong came on to close it out for Ishikawa, but things strayed dramatically from the script when he gave up singles to pinch-hitter Ryota Wakiya and Alex Ramirez. Lim got Yoshiyuki Kamei to fly out to center, but then the South Korean closer, who has 25 saves this season and an ERA under one run, proceeded to walk the next three batters he faced, allowing both the tying and winning runs to trot home for the Central League leaders.

Takuya Kimura was credited with the game-winning RBI after drawing the walk that put Yomiuri ahead 2-1.

The result spoiled a fine performance by Ishikawa. He worked eight scoreless innings, allowing just five hits--all singles--in a 115-pitch effort. Lim (5-2) took the loss, which prevented Ishikawa from getting his 10th win this season.

Giants reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi was the beneficiary, earning his ninth win with one hitless inning. Starter Hisanori Takahashi went four-plus innings for the Giants. He allowed one run on six hits and three walks but did not figure in the decision.

Yomiuri closer Marc Kroon hit one batter in the bottom of the ninth but struck out the other three men he faced to earn his 17th save of the season.

In the bottom of the fourth the Swallows broke a scoreless deadlock with Kazuki Fukuchi slicing an RBI single into right to score Ryoji Aikawa from second. The run scored one at-bat after Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto threw out Ryo Yoshimoto at the plate when he tried to score from third on a groundball off the bat of Ishikawa.


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