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John E. Gibson

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Hiroshima foreign legion slays Lions

by John E. Gibson (Jun 14, 2010)

The Hiroshima Carp's foreign quartet was in perfect tune on Sunday at Seibu Dome.

Giancarlo Alvarado (1-3) went six innings for his first win in Japan, Jeff Fiorentino knocked in the go-ahead run in the fourth inning and Justin Huber hit a two-run home run as the Carp topped the Saitama Seibu Lions 4-2 before 31,647.

Reliever John Bale, in his second stint with the club, came on in the ninth inning to nail it down for his first save since May 10, 2006.

Huber called it "gaijin day."

"We needed that one. It's been a tough first half," said Huber, who was recalled from the farm club before Saturday's game.

The Carp are nine games under .500 and in fourth place in the Central League, and Huber was brought back to replace the power lost when cleanup hitter Kenta Kurihara was deactivated because of a broken bone in his right forearm.

"We've had some injuries and a bad run of luck and that's always tough on any team," said Huber. "Everybody's scratching away and scratching together a win each day now. It's pretty unifying for the team to win a game like that--anyway you can."

The loss highlighted another stumbling finish against the CL for the Pacific League's first-place Lions. Seibu had a chance to claim the interleague title, but has lost three straight. The Orix Buffaloes got their first interleague title by beating the Yokohama BayStars.

"We lost consecutive games at the end of interleague play last year, and we lost again this year with the title on the line," said Lions skipper Hisanobu Watanabe.

"Our ability to score runs right now is pretty pathetic."

Huber and the Carp came up with some runs at the perfect time off Seibu starter Takayuki Kishi (8-3).

Fiorentino had given the Carp a 2-1 lead the previous frame, and a ball off the bat of DH Shigenobu Shima looked playable but dropped in front of right-fielder/catcher Tatsuyuki Uemoto for a single.

"At that moment I was thinking, 'We could use a home run right here,'" said Carp skipper Kenjiro Nomura. "It was nice to see it come at that time."

Giancarlo, who entered with an ERA of 9.00, held Seibu to a run on four hits and two walks, while fanning five.

He said he didn't do anything differently against Lions.

"I've been pitching the same way [all season]," said Alvarado, who also tossed six scoreless inning against the Lions while playing for Taiwan's Macoto Cobras in the 2008 Asian Series at Tokyo Dome.

Kishi suffered the loss. Five of the righty's first six outs were strikeouts, but the Carp chased him after scoring four runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings.

The Lions, who hit into three double plays on Saturday, hit into three more to foil any chance of a comeback.

At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Alex Cabrera had three hits and two RBIs, and Takahiro Okada slugged a two-run homer as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Yokohama BayStars 7-2 to win the interleague title.

Former Yomiuri Giants hurler Hiroshi Kisanuki (6-5) went five innings for the win.

At Kleenex Stadium Miyagi, Jamie D'Antona's eight-inning sac fly tied it and Ryoji Aikawa drew a bases-loaded walk to force in the eventual game-winner as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows got past the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles 3-1.

At Sapporo Dome, Bobby Keppel (8-1) fired a two-hitter and Tomohiro Nioka doubled and drove in four as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters blanked the Chunichi Dragons 5-0.

At Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome, Nobuhiko Matsunaka hit a fourth-inning grand slam and Hitoshi Tamura went deep for the second straight game as the SoftBank Hawks outslugged the Yomiuri Giants in a 7-5 win to sweep its final series.

At Chiba Marine Stadium, Tadahito Iguchi went 4-for-6, including a walk-off 10th-inning solo shot, as the Chiba Lotte Marines outlasted the visiting Hanshin Tigers 9-8.


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