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Lucky 'Stars / Toyoda plunks Murata with bases loaded in 9th as Giants' 6-game winning streak ends

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Lucky 'Stars / Toyoda plunks Murata with bases loaded in 9th as Giants' 6-game winning streak ends

by John E. Gibson (May 14, 2009)

The Yokohama BayStars weren't just looking at the bright side after an unlikely win on Wednesday night, they were glaring at it.

Shuichi Murata's uniform was big enough to get grazed by a Kiyoshi Toyoda (1-1) pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, forcing in the winning run as Yokohama stopped Yomiuri's six-game winning streak with a 9-8 walk-off win at Yokohama Stadium.

Closer Shun Yamaguchi (3-1), who blew the save in the top of the ninth, eventually carried home the winning run after he singled to open the ninth.

It was an anticlimactic ending to a game that provided plenty of excitement, but the BayStars were able to laugh about it.

"That was a great spot to be in" said Murata, Yokohama's cleanup hitter who was 0-for-4 with two RBIs. "I'll make sure to wear my uniform big and not back away from any pitches in situations like that.

"In a long career of playing baseball, I guess it's OK to have at least one game like this, and I'm glad we won it."

Yamaguchi, who had allowed three homers to the Giants the last time he faced them on May 7 at Tokyo Dome, walked two with one out in the top of the ninth.

Both runners came around to score when Toshiyuki Kitagawa couldn't handle Alex Ramirez's pop fly to shallow right for a two-out error. Ramirez was thrown out trying to get to second base, but the BayStars found a way to beat the Giants for just the second time in eight meetings.

"It doesn't matter how we won, it matters that we won," said Yokohama skipper Akihiko Oya. "It was a big win for us."

Said Yamaguchi: "I've blown two straight games against the Giants, but if I get the chance tomorrow, I hope to come out and the job done."

The BayStars got help from the Giants along the way. Yomiuri gave up an early three-run advantage and threw the ball around in the seventh, committing four errors in the loss.

"We gave them a lot of cheap runs," said Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara.

The BayStars took the lead in the second, thanks to Dan Johnson's power. The slugger sent a high-twisting drive to left that managed to not only stay fair, but hopped a ride on a jet stream and reached the seats with a man aboard for a 2-0 Yokohama lead.

Yokohama starter Thomas Mastny was perfect through 3-1/3 innings until Takehiro Ishikawa couldn't field a routine grounder to short, allowing Yomiuri its first base runner in the fourth. Michihiro Ogasawara followed with the Giants' first hit, a sharp single to center, and Ramirez turned a 1-1 curve into a souvenir for someone in the left-field seats. The three-run shot, his sixth, put the Giants up 3-2.

Later in the inning, Shinnosuke Abe smacked a single off the wall in right to plate Lee Seung Yeop for a 4-2 Yomiuri lead.

The Giants added a run in the fifth, but Yokohama erased three-run lead with a four-run fifth, capped by Seiichi Uchikawa's bases-clearing double off the wall with two outs that gave the BayStars a 6-5 lead.

But the Giants tied it at 6-6 on pinch-hitter Yoshitomo Tani's two-out single in the sixth.

In the seventh, with two on and one out, Uchikawa hit a comebacker that Nishimura couldn't squeeze. The ball rolled toward Ogasawara, who threw it into center to allow a run to score. Murata's groundout plated another run to make it 8-6.

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