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John E. Gibson

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Murton in record books again

by John E. Gibson (Oct 10, 2011)

Matt Murton is the talk of the baseball world--outside his own locker room, it seems.

Murton had a single and a double to hit safely in his club-record-tying 28th straight game, knocking in the eventual game-winning run in the fourth as the Hanshin Tigers edged the host Yokohama BayStars 2-1 on Sunday.

The second-year import, though, had no idea he had matched fellow Tiger Shinjiro Hiyama, who set the mark in 2001.

"My teammate Hiyama-san? I didn't know that," Murton admitted after raising his Central League-leading average to .318.

"The bottom line is, it's a great honor to put the uniform on every day. I have great respect for this league. It's not easy and, to be honest with you, all I'm trying to do is be successful every day."

The win was a successful step for the Tigers, who kept their faint playoff hopes alive. Fourth-place Hanshin is 3-1/2 games behind the Yomiuri Giants, who played later.

Murton inched closer to former Hiroshima Carp star Yoshihiko Takahashi's all-time mark of 33 straight games with a hit--set in 1979--and is one shy of Glenn Braggs' high-water mark among imports. Murton, who last year broke Ichiro Suzuki's Japan single-season hit record and finished with 214, is now tied with Tony Bernazard (Nankai Hawks) and Hiyama for the seventh-longest hitting streak in Japan pro baseball history.

The second-year import fouled off a couple of pitches with two strikes before jumping all over a fastball down the middle and whistling it just past the head and glove of loser Hiroshi Kobayashi (0-2).

"Every player wants to have individual success, but the bottom line is, it's about helping your team win," Murton said.

Hanshin starter Jason Standridge (9-6) worked out of trouble over his six innings, holding Yokohama to a run on four hits, while walking five and fanning four.

The Tigers scored first, pushing home a run in the second inning. Takahiro Arai opened the frame with a single to left and Kentaro Sekimoto's two-out double to the gap in left center allowed Arai to score from first.

But the BayStars evened it in the home half, Shuichi Murata blasting a shot just inside the foul pole in left with the bases empty. It was just the two-time CL homer king's 18th longball of the year.

In Pacific League action at Sapporo Dome, Takeya Nakamura blasted his Japan-best 45th homer and added a tiebreaking double in a four-run eighth as the Saitama Seibu Lions the topped the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 6-2.

At Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome, Tadashi Settsu (14-8) fired 7-1/3 innings of one-run ball, and PL batting leader Seiichi Uchikawa had two hits and an RBI as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks downed Orix 4-1, sending the Buffaloes to their fourth-straight loss.

Yuichi Honda's two-run single in the eighth sealed the seventh straight win for the Hawks. At Kleenex Stadium Miyagi, Kensuke Uchimura had two hits and two RBIs as the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles held off the Chiba Lotte Marines 4-3.


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