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Suzuki, Greisinger pace Giants

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Suzuki, Greisinger pace Giants

by Rob Smaal (Apr 16, 2009)

Takahiro Suzuki lined a tie-breaking two-run single in a three-run sixth inning and Seth Greisinger held his former club to two runs through seven innings Wednesday as the Yomiuri Giants topped the Yakult Swallows 6-2 at Jingu Stadium.

With the win, the first-place Giants improved to 6-2-2 in the Central League, while the Swallows saw their record fall to 5-5.

Greisinger (2-1), who won 16 games for the Swallows in 2007, was hardly dominating, giving up 10 hits, but he did not issue a walk and he was able to limit the damage when men did get on base.

"I felt I had a good fastball today," said Greisinger, who struck out four. "They put the ball in play but fortunately we were able to get out of it. It was a bit of a struggle, but when you throw strikes they have to put the ball in play. We were able to limit their runs and we got some key hits and were able to get the win."

Kiyoshi Toyoda gave up one hit in a scoreless eighth and hard-throwing closer Marc Kroon came in to work the ninth. Kroon, who holds the NPB record for the fastest pitch at 162 kph, hit 161 on consecutive pitches against Keizo Kawashima before walking him. He then struck out Norichika Aoki on a nasty curveball to end it.

Swallows veteran right-hander Masao Kida (1-1) was saddled with the loss. Kida allowed five runs on seven hits and five walks through six innings. He also hit one batter with a pitch and whiffed four.

Lefty Ricky Barrett made his Japan debut for Yakult, throwing two scoreless innings of one-hit ball in relief of Kida.

The Swallows struck first in the home half of the third inning when speedster Kazuki Fukuchi scored from third on a sharp grounder to first by Aoki. Giants first-baseman Lee Seung Yeop fielded the ball cleanly and fired home, but the throw was too late to get Fukuchi.

In the fourth, the Giants leapt ahead when they put two on the board.

Kida hit Alex Ramirez with a pitch and walked the next two batters to load the bases with none out. Shinnosuke Abe then blooped a broken-bat RBI single up the middle to tie it and Hayato Sakamoto followed him with a sacrifice fly to right field to make it 2-1.

Yakult evened the score in the bottom of the fifth when Aaron Guiel beat out a bases-loaded, two-out single to plate a run. A couple of pitches after Guiel narrowly missed a grand slam when he jacked one just foul, he hit an infield chopper to the left side that Greisinger fielded and threw to first, but Guiel just beat the throw.

A two-run line single to right by Suzuki and an RBI single by Takuya Kimura in the sixth made a winner of Greisinger as the Giants went up 5-2 on their cross-town rivals. Yoshiyuki Kamei singled in a run in the ninth for Yomiuri to cap the scoring.

Giants catcher Abe had a nice night at the dish. He was 3-for-3 with a walk, a double, an RBI and a run scored.

Swallows leadoff hitter Fukuchi also had three hits on the night and a stolen base in a losing cause.

The teams got rained out Tuesday night, also at Jingu. They play again tonight before the Giants move down to Nagoya for three games against the Chunichi Dragons starting Friday.

Next up for the Swallows are the Hiroshima Carp. They are scheduled to play Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Jingu Stadium.

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