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Birds strike down Giants

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Birds strike down Giants

by Jim Allen (Jun 28, 2009)

The Swallows proved they could give as good as they got on Saturday.

A night after seeing a pair of the team's winning streaks end, teenager Yoshinori Sato helped Yakult snap a pair of losing streaks in a 6-1 win over the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome.

Sato (4-4) allowed a run on two hits in eight innings as the Swallows ended an 0-for-9 skid here that started last July 2.

After seeing a seven-game win streak go up in smoke on Friday along with starter Shohei Tateyama's 14-game run, the Swallows got the better of former teammate Seth Greisinger for the first time in eight tries.

"You're not going to hit Greisinger when he's on top of his game," Swallows skipper Shigeru Takada said. "And even then you have to shut them down, and Yoshinori did that."

Sato allowed two hits and a walk, while striking out five.

"I think 70 to 80 percent of my pitches were really good tonight," the 19-year-old right-hander said. "From the first pitch, I thought tonight was different. Usually when I'm good in the bullpen, I'm bad in the game. Tonight I felt really good in the bullpen.

"I had a good, long bullpen session the other day and I think that helped. I was getting ahead of hitters tonight, not so I could strike them out so much as so I could stay within my game."

Greisinger (7-5) gave up four runs, three earned, in six innings. Greisinger surrendered seven hits and a walk, while striking out five. He was called for one balk, which gifted the visitors a run in the second.

Back-to-back two-out singles by Ryoji Aikawa and Keizo Kawashima set up the chance. Aikawa beat a throw to third and Kawashima kept going to second, beating another throw there.

With two in scoring position, Swallows pitcher Sato ostensibly struck out, but the Giants were summoned back to the field after the umps called Greisinger's pitch a balk. After the run went up on the board, Sato struck out officially.

The second-place Swallows, who moved back to within two games of the Central League-leading Giants, improved to 2-5 against Yomiuri this season.

"It's so much better than coming back and having to shake off two straight losses to them," Takada said. "If it becomes a case of not being able to beat them, that would be a serious problem as the season progresses."

Jamie D'Antona, who had two RBIs, doubled in a run in the third after an error on first baseman Lee Seung Yeop gave Yakult a runner with one out. In the fourth, Shinya Miyamoto doubled and scored from second on a single by Kawashima.

The Giants, stymied by some sharp defense, didn't score until Lee hit his 14th home run of the year in the fifth.

In the sixth, Swallows catcher Aikawa fired back with a solo homer, the first Greisinger has surrendered to his old club.

Yomiuri lefty Norihito Kaneto made his 2009 debut in the seventh and gave up two runs. Hiroyasu Tanaka doubled with one out, and back-to-back, two-out doubles by D'Antona and Aaron Guiel made it 6-1.

While Sato dealt, his fielders picked up what little slack was left. The big wheels in the Giants offense, No. 3 hitter Michihiro Ogasawara and cleanup man Alex Ramirez, were twice denied by some good leather work. In the eighth, second baseman Tanaka made a diving stop of a liner to rob pinch- hitter Takahiro Suzuki of a leadoff single.

"We don't have an amazing lineup," Takada said. "We need to win by using our speed: on defense, on the bases."

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