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'Stars come out for Uchikawa / CL batting leader stays hot, leads Yokohama to win over Tokyo Yakult

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'Stars come out for Uchikawa / CL batting leader stays hot, leads Yokohama to win over Tokyo Yakult

by Jim Allen (Aug 30, 2008)

Although his team has struggled, Seiichi Uchikawa has been a big hit at Yokohama Stadium this season.

The BayStars first baseman and Central League batting leader added three more hits on Friday night, helping Yokohama to a 4-2 victory over Tokyo Yakult in a rain-soaked, mistake-filled game.

Uchikawa, who raised his average to .375, tied it 1-1 with a first-inning single after Swallows right fielder Kazuki Fukuchi lost a fly ball to give the BayStars a leadoff triple.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about winning the batting title," said the 26-year-old No. 3 hitter. "But I'm not there yet. All I can do is prepare and go after the pitches I should go after.

"If I get to the end of the season and have done it, well then I can think back and say, 'Wow. I did that over a whole year.' Until then, I can only take each at-bat seriously and see what happens."

After a BayStars error helped put the Swallows ahead, Toshihisa Nishi drew a leadoff walk in the third. An Uchikawa single and a walk by cleanup hitter Shuichi Murata loaded the bases before Nishi scored the tying run on a single by Takahiro Saeki.

Murata walked three times and was hit by a pitch in his fourth time up.

Nishi snapped a sixth-inning tie with an RBI single. Swallows shortstop Shingo Kawabata's throwing error put Ryoji Aikawa on to open the inning. A wild pickoff throw by reliever Takehiko Oshimoto (5-4) and a sacrifice sent the runner to third.

BayStars lefty Yuya Ishii pitched two impressive innings of relief to secure the win for right-hander Yukiya Yokoyama (3-2), who got two outs to stop a Swallows scoring chance in the top of the sixth.

Hayato Terahara worked the ninth to record his 17th save for the BayStars.

Aikawa plated an insurance run in the seventh with an infield single as the last-place BayStars snapped a four-game losing streak.

"Honestly speaking, the way we've been playing, it would have been very easy to give up after we fell behind," Uchikawa said. "But we do want to win. We battled at the plate and the pitchers kept us in the game."

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