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Ota’s versatility, productivity ignite Giants

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Taishi Ota made up for lost time in his first game back from the farm team.

He also helped move the Yomiuri Giants one step closer to the Central League pennant.

Ota played three positions, drove in three runs and finished with three hits, Shuichi Murata homered, and D.J. Houlton earned his 10th win of the season in the Giants’ 9-1 rout of the BayStars on Saturday at Tokyo Dome.

“I’ve had a long season on the farm, so this is really a happy day for me to do so well in my first game after being called up,” Ota said.

The 22-year-old, who wears Hideki Matsui’s old No. 55, singled in his first two trips to the plate and hit a two-run double his third time up, finishing 3-for-4. Ota had played in just two games prior to Saturday’s contest and was 0-for-2 for the season.

“After I got the first hit and drove in a run, it gave me confidence to try for more,” Ota said. “My parents are in the stands today, so I wanted to have a good game for them as well as myself.”

He flexed his muscles in the field as well, beginning the game at first base, before moving to center field and finally third base, recording putouts at all three positions.

“I’m not known as a great defensive player, so I surprised even myself by making those plays,” Ota said.

The Giants’ regular third baseman, Shuichi Murata, had a big day as well. The former Yokohama slugger finished 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs in the victory. Murata, who spent his first nine seasons with the BayStars, is hitting .273 with three home runs and 14 RBIs against his former club.

Daisuke Fujimura’s only hit of the afternoon was a two-run triple, Hisayoshi Chono finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and Hayato Sakamoto went 2-for-4.

Houlton (10-6) threw eight innings of one-run ball, allowing three hits, striking out five and walking two. The right-hander reached double-digit wins for the second straight year and for the third time in four seasons. Houlton lowered his season ERA to 2.64 in the win.

“It’s a little bit of a relief,” Houlton said. “I just feel like I did a good job. Especially to do it in back-to-back years. I had a good year last year and I wanted to have a good year this year too. I don’t want to end right now; I want to keep going, but it’s nice.”

The win was particularly sweet as it was the BayStars who prevented Houlton from notching his 10th win last week.

“I felt really good going into it,” Houlton said. “I just wanted to kind of get revenge since in my last outing I didn’t do too well.”

Alex Ramirez provided one of the few bright spots for the BayStars with a solo homer on a curveball from Houlton in the fourth inning.

“Seems like whatever I throw to him, he hits it,” Houlton said. “I didn’t mind today, because we had such a big lead.”

Yokohama starter Kenjiro Tanaka (0-2) took the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits in four innings.

The BayStars fell to 3-13-2 against the Giants this year, having yet to win a game at Tokyo Dome.

Eldred lifts Carp

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref.
Kyodo

Hiroshima’s Brad Eldred, dropped to the fifth spot in the batting order due to a lack of recent production, singled in a run in the fifth inning, and Keisuke Imai (2-5) held Hanshin to four hits and a walk for his first complete game and shutout as the Carp topped the Tigers 1-0 on Saturday in Central League action.

Eldred, who has been bothered by pain in his right elbow, drove in the game-winning run off Jason Standridge (6-10) who allowed a run in eight innings.

Swallows 6, Dragons 2

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, with Yakult missing two big hitters, the Swallows’ Lastings Milledge drove in six runs in a win over Chunichi.

Yakult’s No. 4 hitter hit a three-run, first-inning homer and a three-run double in the seventh.

Swallows right-hander Shohei Tateyama (9-8) allowed two runs in seven-plus innings. The Dragons had closed to within a run before Jorge Sosa entered the game in the seventh and allowed two hits and three walks in two-thirds of an inning.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 3, Hawks 1

At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Makoto Kaneko hit a game-tying RBI single in the fifth inning, and Eiichi Koyano broke the tie with a two-run homer off lefty Masahiko Morifuku (1-5) in the ninth as Hokkaido Nippon Ham rallied past Fukuoka Softbank.

Naoki Miyanishi (2-2) pitched out of an eighth-inning jam to throw a scoreless inning in relief and Hisashi Takeda closed it out for his 21st save.

Hawks starter Yang Yao-hsun allowed an unearned run in five innings. His younger brother, Fighters leadoff man Yo Daikan was 0-for-2 against him with a strikeout. In their only other meeting, on Aug. 8, Yo singled on the first pitch he saw.

Lions 4, Marines 2

At Seibu Dome, Seibu southpaw Kazuhisa Ishii (10-4) reached double digits in wins for the first time in four years. The veteran lefty got stronger as the game went on, retiring the last 13 batters he faced as he allowed a run in seven innings in a win over Lotte.

The Lions opened the scoring in the first on an RBI single by Takeya Nakamura. Ryo Sakata singled home one in the second, and Hiroyuki Nakajima singled in two more in the inning. Ace Hideaki Wakui worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save.

Buffaloes 7, Eagles 4

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Orix’s Ryoichi Adachi broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the second inning with an RBI double that put the visitors in front for good against Tohoku Rakuten.

Aarom Baldiris drove in two runs and Takahiro Okada drove in three for the Buffaloes.

Italy international Alessandro Maestri (3-1) allowed four runs — one earned — in five innings to earn the win as Baldiris homered once and Okada knocked two over the fence.