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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kawakami Shouritoushu!: Kenshin Wins In Major League Debut


Kenshin Kawakami had a successful major league debut and the Atlanta Braves came from behind to beat the Washington Nationals 5-3.

The Braves' first Japanese player in the major leagues, Kawakami logged six innings, allowing three runs on an RBI single by Nick Johnson in the first and a two-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman in the third. He didn't allow any hits after the third inning and he struck out eight Washington batters. He also walked four batters.

Kelly Johnson led off the bottom of the third with a solo shot to center off Nationals starter John Lannan to cut the gap to 3-1. In the bottom of the fourth, Matt Diaz singled, then Casey Kotchman grounded into a fielder's choice to erase Diaz. Jordan Schafer doubled into the right field corner to move Kotchman to third. After Kawakami grounded out to short, Kelly Johnson rapped a single to center and stretched it into a double when Willie Harris didn't cover second base. Both Kotchman and Schafer scored on the play.

Yunel Escobar hit a hard grounder that Harris knocked down, but couldn't make any play, and then Chipper Jones knocked in Johnson with a single to give the Braves the lead.

Kawakami kept the lead through the sixth inning, retiring the last eight Washington batters he faced. Peter Moylan entered in the seventh inning and struck out the side, lowering his ERA from infinity to 45.00. Rafael Soriano allowed a leadoff double to Cristian Guzman, but he then struck out Ryan Zimmerman. Adam Dunn then walked, but Nick Johnson hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

The Braves added an insurance run in the eighth with a two-out single by Yunel Escobar. Yunel also had two walks in the game. Jordan Schafer had two doubles and a single.

Mike Gonzalez came on in the ninth for the save. He got Austin Kearns to ground out to short and Jesus Flores to strike out swinging. Josh Willingham pinch-hit for Harris and he was rung up with a check swing to end the game.

W - Kenshin Kawakami (1-0)
L - John Lannan (0-2)
S - Mike Gonzalez (1)
HR - WAS - Ryan Zimmerman (1)
ATL - Kelly Johnson (2)


2B Kelly Johnson, Atlanta - 3-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI

P Kenshin Kawakami, Atlanta - 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 SO

CF Jordan Schafer, Atlanta - 3-4, 2 2B, 2 R

AP Photo by John Amis

EDIT: Changed boxscore link to

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