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Rob Smaal

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Swallows' Iihara hits walkoff home run

by Rob Smaal (Sep 8, 2010)

Yasushi Iihara smacked a ninth-inning walkoff solo home run on Tuesday night at Jingu Stadium as the Yakult Swallows continued their unlikely push for a Central League playoff berth with a 6-5 come-from-behind win over the visiting Hiroshima Carp.

The Swallows began the night 4.5 games behind the Yomiuri Giants for the third and final playoff spot in the CL.

The fifth-place Carp look set to miss out on the postseason again this year.

Iihara whacked his game-winning homer, his 14th of the season, off Carp reliever Keisuke Imai (0-3) to lead off the bottom of the ninth, one inning after the Swallows had tied the game on a pinch-hit RBI single to right by Josh Whitesell.

Earlier in the bottom of the eighth, Shingo Kawabata flared an RBI single to center to make it a 5-4 game before Whitesell came off the bench to tie it off Takayuki Oshima.

Swallows closer Lim Chang-yong (1-2) got his first win of the season to go along with his 28 saves. The South Korean flame-thrower worked a scoreless ninth, giving up one hit and striking out one batter.

Jamie D'Antona, getting a rare start at first base, crushed a towering two-run shot to straightaway center in the bottom of the fourth to get the Swallows on the board. D'Antona was 2-for-3 with a walk and also played some stellar defense for Yakult.

Eishin Soyogi and Kenta Kurihara each homered for Hiroshima, who jumped out to an early lead. Swallows starter Kyohei Muranaka walked Kurihara to load the bases with one out in the top of the first, setting the table for Jun Hirose, who punched a two-run single through the left side of the infield to give the Carp a quick 2-0 lead.


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