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Mahara returns to save 2-1 thriller

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The title defense begins! Welcome to 2012, Hawks fans!

Mahara returns to save 2-1 thriller

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Unlike 2008, when the Hawks were without the services of ace closer Takahiro Mahara for most of the year, the Hawks bullpen held its own, mostly thanks to an amazing run from the starting rotation.

With just one inning in which both teams scored, Mahara, fresh from readjustment, worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save of the season.

The 5th inning was the only inning in which there was scoring. The Hawks, thoroughly shut down by Giants starter Norihito Kaneto, finally got some semblance of a sustained rally. Kokubo singled and took third when Tamura singled himself. Tamura took second on the throw to set up Nobuhiro Matsuda, who cleaned the bases with a two-run double to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead.

Yomiuri, who had been knocking on the door all day, finally got the door open just a little bit in the bottom half of the inning. Leadoff man Taishi Ohta got a two-out double, and Daisuke Fujimura singled the Giants speedster home to halve the SoftBank lead.

Offensively, that was it for the game. Kaneto and Wada matched each other stride for stride through the first four innings. However, it was Wada (W, 3-1, 1.94) who ultimately won out. Despite going only six innings, the Hawks lefty scattered six hits while walking three and striking out five.

Kaneto (L, 1-1, 2.22) was just as good over seven innings, striking out six and walking one while giving up five hits, it was the inexplicably anemic kyojin offense that ended up leaving him on the hook and taking the loss.

SoftBank finishes up their only trip to Tokyo Dome tomorrow, as they send DJ Houlton (5-1, 1.65) to the mound against Shun Tohno (1-4, 4.62).
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