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Rob Smaal

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Giants gum up Carp quest for postseason

by Rob Smaal (Sep 28, 2009)

The surging Yomiuri Giants won their 10th game in a row Sunday at Tokyo, denting the Carp's playoff aspirations in the process with a 4-1 victory over Hiroshima.

Michihiro Ogasawara and Yoshiyuki Kamei homered to back the quality pitching of lefty Hisanori Takahashi as Yomiuri completed a three-game sweep of the Carp.

While the Giants clinched their third straight Central League pennant on Wednesday, Hiroshima came into this series battling for the third CL playoff spot with the Yakult Swallows and Hanshin Tigers. They dropped the first two in the series, both tough one-run losses, and have now lost their last five to fall even further behind the Tigers and Swallows with just nine games left on their schedule.

The Tigers topped the second-place Chunichi Dragons 8-2 in Nagoya on Sunday afternoon while the Swallows beat Yokohama BayStars 3-1 at Jingu.

Yakult is in third place, half-a-game ahead of the Tigers and four games ahead of the Carp.

"Offensively, we were pressing all three games (against the Giants) and tried to do too much," said Carp manager Marty Brown. "We didn't get much production from the middle of our order, no substance, and it's off pitchers we've seen before so it's not like we're not prepared. Guys are just trying to do too much up there. It happened all series."

Giants catcher Shinnosuke Abe opened the scoring in the fourth inning when he lined an RBI single up the middle off Carp starter Kan Otake. In the fifth, Ogasawara slammed a 2-2 Otake forkball into the stands in right with a man aboard to make it 3-0. The two-run shot was Ogasawara's team-best 31st home run of the season.

Tetsuya Kokubo's sixth-inning RBI double off Takahashi with two men on made it a 3-1 game, but Kamei would go yard to lead off the eighth off reliever Junpei Shinoda to restore the three-run margin.

Takahashi (9-6) got the win, tossing one-run ball over seven innings. He gave up six hits, struck out six, walked a pair and hit a batter with a pitch in a solid outing.

Tetsuya Yamaguchi worked the eighth to get a hold and Kiyoshi Toyoda threw a scoreless ninth to pick up his fourth save. Each man gave up one hit.

"I didn't want to be the guy who broke our winning streak," Takahashi said. "With all the success we've been having lately, the mood of the team has been really upbeat and I didn't want to bring that down. Now my goal is to get into double-digits (in wins)."

Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara was pleased with his starter on Sunday.

"Takahashi has been pitching well lately," said Hara, who is not afraid to be critical of his pitchers. "He's got balance, speed, everything is going well for him right now and he seems to be in very good condition."

Otake (9-7) took the loss for Brown's club. He allowed three runs on six hits and three walks over five innings.


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