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Obispo grabs chance, plows through Carp

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Obispo grabs chance, plows through Carp

by John E. Gibson (Jul 3, 2009)

Yomiuri Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara decided to juggle his rotation and reward farmhand Wirfin Obispo for his minor league success with his first career start.

Obispo responded by plowing through the Hiroshima lineup for 6-2/3 innings to earn his first pro win in Japan, leading the Giants to a 4-1 decision over the Carp on Thursday at Tokyo Dome.

Hiroshima looked like it had the advantage, sending ace Colby Lewis (4-3) to the mound. But Obispo (1-0) outpitched him as the two-time reigning Central League champs beat the Carp at the Dome for the first time this year and tied their season high by moving 20 games over .500.

The third-year Dominican right-hander, who was 2-1 with three saves and an 1.33 ERA in 15 appearances on the farm this season, made one mistake that cost him a home run to Carp cleanup man Kenta Kurihara. But he was otherwise sharp, scattering seven hits, two walks and a hit batter while fanning six.

"I really appreciated getting this chance and I'm happy I was able to do my job," said Obispo.

"I really appreciate everything everyone has been doing for me in the minors," said the 24-year-old, who settled himself down after allowing the first run. "When Kurihara hit the home run, I thought 'Oh, no.' But I refocused and I believed the guys would come back and score some runs.

Hara said Obispo's performance gave the Giants a boost.

"Lewis is a great pitcher and to go up against him and come away with a win is big--and it's a just huge win for the team," said Hara. "I thought he'd be more nervous, but before the game he was able to channel that energy well and he really exceeded expectations tonight."

The only leadoff batter to reach base against Obispo was Kurihara, who came all the way around by hitting his 10th longball to open the second inning. But the Carp left the bases loaded twice and stranded 10 in all.

CL top hitter Hayato Sakamoto doubled twice and scored the go-ahead run on Alex Ramirez's dunker in a two-run third inning that put Yomiuri on top.

Kiyoshi Toyoda worked out of Obispo's jam in the seventh, Daisuke Ochi had a perfect eighth and Tetsuya Yamaguchi fanned two to save it in the ninth.

Lewis struggled all night. He allowed a career-worst 12 hits over 5-2/3 innings. The righty had no walks but fanned just two before exiting in the sixth inning with four runs in and a runner on second.

Kurihara jumped all over a hanging slider, whacking it an estimated 145 meters and off the back wall of the Dome for a 1-0 lead in the second. But it only counted for one run, and the Giants got that back in the bottom half of the inning--amid a bit of controversy.

Yoshiyuki Kamei fouled a ball that Carp catcher Yoshiyuki Ishikawa thought he picked out of the air before it hit the net behind home plate. But home plate umpire Masanobu Suginaga ruled it hit the fence first. With new life, Kamei singled up the middle and eventually came home to tie the score at 1-1 when Lee Seung Yeop rolled a single through the left side.

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