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D'Antona, high-flying Swallows snuff out Dragons

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D'Antona, high-flying Swallows snuff out Dragons

by Rob Smaal and Kim Han Il (Apr 1, 2010)

Jamie D'Antona continued his torrid start to the 2010 season, hitting two more home runs and driving in five as the Yakult Swallows topped the Chunichi Dragons 9-5 Wednesday night at Jingu Stadium.

The hot-hitting D'Antona was 3-for-4 on the night, helping Yakult starter Shohei Tateyama pick up his first win of the season as the Swallows improved to 4-1. Tateyama (1-0), a 16-game winner a year ago, gave up five runs on seven hits--including three solo homers--through eight innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked one.

It was the second five-RBI game already this young season for D'Antona, who hit 21 home runs over 118 games with the club in 2009, his first year in Japan. He is hitting .471 through the first five games of the season with four homers and 11 runs driven in.

"I shouldn't have even swung at the first one," D'Antona said of his first-inning blast off Dragons starter Takashi Ogasawara, a three-run shot in the first inning on a pitch low and out of the strike zone. "I was lucky it went out, but I'll take it. The second one, I knew it was gonna go. It was a better pitch to swing at and I hit it well."

Batting cleanup, D'Antona gave the Swallows a quick 3-0 lead when he golfed a cut fastball from Ogasawara over the fence in left-center. His blast scored Hiroyasu Tanaka, who had doubled and reached third on an error by center fielder Atsushi Fujii, and Norichika Aoki, who had reached on a fielder's choice.

The Dragons got those three back soon enough, however, courtesy of a solo homer to lead off the top of the second by Kazuhiro Wada and an RBI single lined up the middle by Ogasawara to help his own cause.

They tied it 3-3 on a Dionys Cesar home run to right to start the third, but Yakult erupted for three more runs in the bottom half of the frame. Aaron Guiel smoked a line-drive RBI single back up the middle to put the Swallows up 4-3 and veteran Shinya Miyamoto followed up by clobbering an RBI double into the corner in left field. New addition Atsushi Fujimoto then chipped in with a sacrifice fly to put the Swallows up by three.

D'Antona tacked on two more when he sent an Ogasawara delivery into the center-field stands with a man aboard in the bottom of the fourth.

Another Chunichi leadoff homer, this one by Masahiko Morino in the sixth, made it an 8-4 ballgame before Yakult's Fujimoto drove in a run with his second sacrifice fly of the night in the bottom of the seventh. An RBI single by Wada in the top of the eighth capped the scoring.

Lefty Ogasawara (0-1) took the loss. He was battered for eight runs on nine hits over four innings.

The Swallows will try to complete a three-game sweep of the Dragons on Thursday night at Jingu.

* * *

Elsewhere in the CL, Tomoaki Kanemoto blasted a two-run home run and pitcher Yasutomo Kubo hit a bases-clearing double with the bases loaded in a five-run third inning as the Hanshin Tigers downed the Hiroshima Carp 6-4 at Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium.

Kanemoto, who opened the scoring with an RBI double in the first inning, hit his first homer of the 2010 season off Carp starter Yuki Saito to make it 3-2.

Kubo followed in the third-inning attack with a double to left-center field, driving in three RBIs. The right-hander earned his first win after tossing six innings on four runs.

Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth to earn his second save.

In the Pacific League, the Orix Buffaloes edged the Nippon-Ham Fighters 3-2 at Tokyo Dome. At Seibu Dome, the Lions defeated the Softbank Hawks 9-3.

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