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Ishikawa tosses seven-hitter, puts dent in Carp’s postseason plans

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Tokyo Yakult Swallows pitcher Masanori Ishikawa probably won’t be playing in the postseason this year.

He might just keep the Hiroshima Carp from playing in it as well.

Ishikawa dominated the Carp for the second straight time and Kazuki Fukuchi drove in the go-ahead run during a five-run sixth as the Swallows put a dent in the Carp’s playoff plans with a 8-0 win on Tuesday night at Jingu Stadium.

Ishikawa (11-10) threw a complete-game shutout, allowing seven hits and striking out eight. Ishikawa ran into trouble in the ninth, after the Carp loaded the bases with one out. He got out of the jam by forcing Shigenobu Shima to ground into a game-ending double play.

The win comes less than two weeks after Ishikawa held the Carp to a single run while striking out seven in a complete-game victory on Sept. 17.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Carp manager Marty Brown said. “The top of our order didn’t get on base. When we got hits they were with one and two outs. So we had no chance to get anything going. We had one opportunity in five innings. After that they put up a five-spot. You can’t give up five to him.”

The loss cost the Carp a chance to get a leg up on the Chunichi Dragons for the final Central League Climax Series berth. Hiroshima entered the contest a half-game behind the third-place Dragons in the standing. Chunichi’s game against the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium on Tuesday was rained out.

“Any loss right now puts us in a difficult position,” Brown said. It wasn’t just tonight’s. We were going pretty well, then all of a sudden jammed hit, another jammed hit, and a ground ball through the infield . . .

“We had opportunities and we didn’t get it done. That’s two nights in a row we had chances early in the game and didn’t get them done. When you’re playing consistently, you’re getting the little things done.”

Carp pitcher Junpei Shinoda started strong before a disastrous sixth inning saw him allow four runs — three earned to take the loss. Shinoda (3-4) threw 5 1/3 innings and struck out three.

“I thought Shinoda had pretty good stuff and was pitching pretty well,” Brown said. “But like I said it just wasn’t our night.”

Norichika Aoki and Keizo Kawashima got things started in the sixth with back-to-back, one-out singles to put runners on first and second. The Swallows then went ahead 1-0 on Fukuchi’s single.

Shinoda walked the next batter, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, to load the bases, and the Swallows went ahead 2-0 after pinch hitter Yuuichi Matsumoto drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Tomohiro Umetsu. Carp left fielder Shigenobu Shima then misplayed Yusuke Kajimoto’s fly ball, allowing a pair of runs to score.

“I’m not sure what happened on the play,” Brown said. “Looked like Shima overran the ball and it got by.”

Hiroyasu Tanaka followed with a weak grounder to short, but pinch runner Munehiro Shida beat the throw home to make it 5-0.

Kajimoto drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Tanaka added a homer in the eighth to end the scoring.

The Carp must regroup quickly with two games remaining against the Swallows before a three-game set against the Yokohama BayStars — all on the road — as they continue their push toward the playoffs.

“We’re resilient,” Brown said. “We’ve had situations where we’ve run into tough pitchers here and there and we’ve bounced back. We just have to go out and play the same baseball we’ve played before.”

Giants blank ‘Stars

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Alex Ramirez and Michihiro Ogasawara both hit solo homers and the Yomiuri Giants held off the Yokohama BayStars 3-0 to move within a half-game of the idle front-running Hanshin Tigers in the Central League on Tuesday.

Ramirez went deep to left in the second inning to take sole possession of the lead in the league home run derby with his 42nd homer, and Ogasawara had a blast to right in the fifth, both off veteran lefty Kimiyasu Kudo (0-2), at Yokohama Stadium.

Dragons at Tigers — ppd.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Hawks at Eagles — late