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Rob Smaal

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Carp's pesky Amaya rattles Swallows in tight CL battle

by Rob Smaal (Apr 7, 2010)

A couple of opportunistic runs provided by the bat of Hiroshima's Soichiro Amaya doomed the Yakult Swallows on Tuesday night as they fell 3-2 to the Carp in Central League action.

With the game tied 2-2 in the eighth after a seventh-inning solo homer by Yakult's Aaron Guiel, Amaya ripped a line drive to center that scored Eishin Soyogi from second with the winning run. Soyogi, who had walked and stolen second, was initially ruled out on a bang-bang play at the plate after a nice relay home by shortstop Atsushi Fujimoto--until the home-plate umpire realized that catcher Ryohei Kawamoto had dropped the ball. Both an error and an RBI were awarded on the play by the official scorer.

"I was just trying to make contact," said Amaya, who also made a stellar play in center field. "I didn't think it had enough on it to score the run, but when Soyogi made it home I was relieved."

The win improved the last place Carp to 2-7 on the year, while Yakult fell to 6-4.

Yakult got to Carp starter Takahiro Aoki early. Kazuki Fukuchi hit a lead-off double in the bottom of the first and a sacrifice bunt by Hiroyasu Tanaka moved him over to third. Left-hander Aoki struck out his namesake, Norichika Aoki, before cleanup-hitter Jamie D'Antona chopped an infield single to third base to score Fukuchi.

Carp first-baseman Justin Huber belted his first home run in Japan. Huber crushed a Masato Nakazawa fastball in the second inning, connecting for a solo shot to left that tied the game 1-1.

"It's nice to get that monkey off my back," said Huber of his first tater in Carp red. "We've been scuffling a bit lately, dropped a few games in our last series, so it's good to get that out of the way as well."

The Carp got the go-ahead run in the fifth, and it came on a defensive miscue by Fukuchi in left field on another ball hit by Amaya. After Soyogi doubled, Amaya lined a single to left and as Fukuchi went to play the ball on the hop, it skipped off his glove, allowing Soyogi to score on the error.

Yakult slugger Guiel squared things up in the home half of the seventh. He hammered a Katsuhiro Nagakawa delivery into the stands in right. His solo shot was his fifth home run of the season, and this one came off a Carp reliever who appears to have his lost his job as the team's closer.

Both center fielders came up with superb defensive plays on the night. In the top of the third, Swallows outfielder Aoki made a fine leaping catch against the fence in center. The Carp's Amaya responded by robbing Guiel with a diving catch on a sinking liner in the gap in right-center an inning later.

Despite giving up the home run to Guiel in one inning of work, Nagakawa got the win to improve to 1-1. American right-hander Mike Schultz worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his first save.

Swallows reliever Takehiko Oshimoto (0-1) took the loss.

Elsewhere in the CL, veteran slugger Tomoaki Kanemoto slammed a game-winning two-run homer as the Hanshin Tigers edged the Yomiuri Giants 5-4 at Koshien Stadium.

After Yomiuri tied it 3-3 on Shinnosuke Abe's one-run double, the 42-year-old Kanemoto hit his second homer of the season off Giants starter Shugo Fujii (0-1) to give the Tigers a 5-3 lead in sixth inning.

Yoshinobu Takahashi hit an RBI single to center to narrow the gap in the seventh, but Tigers relievers Tomoyuki Kubota and Kyuji Fujikawa teamed up to blank the Giants in the last two innings.

Tigers starter Atsushi Nomi (2-0) allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in seven innings to earn his second victory. Fujikawa earned his third save.

At Yokohama Stadium, the Chunichi Dragons topped the BayStars 5-3.


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