Yoshinobu Takahashi took care of the offense and Seth Greisinger teamed up with Marc Kroon on the mound Thursday as the Yomiuri Giants eked out a 1-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.
Takahashi got a pitch from Daisuke Yamai up in the zone in the fourth inning that he could drive and he jumped all over it, blasting it over the fence in right field for his Central League-leading eighth home run of the season.
The victory meant the Giants avoided being swept by the defending Japan Series champions, who won 6-3 on Tuesday and 6-1 on Wednesday night. Takahashi, who had 35 homers last season, smacked a pair of dingers in Tuesday's loss.
Greisinger improved to 2-1, giving up eight hits in 7 1/3 innings of shutout pitching. The right-hander struck out three and didn't walk a batter.
Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara called on Kroon with a man on second and one out in the bottom of the eighth. The crooked-capped closer promptly struck out Lee Byung Kyu and cleanup hitter Tyrone Woods, setting both guys up with his blazing fastball before crossing them up with breaking balls.
In the ninth, Kroon got Kazuhiro Wada to fly out to center before striking out Masahiko Morino and getting Nori Nakamura on an infield groundout to earn his fifth save of the season.
Yamai (0-1) took the loss. He allowed just the one run on five hits through seven innings and he struck out--you guessed it--seven batters.
None of the five pitchers involved in Thursday's game issued a walk.
With a man on second and two out in the bottom of the seventh, Dragons manager Hiromitsu Ochiai had veteran Kazuyoshi Tatsunami pinch hit for Yamai. The left-handed hitting Tatsunami stroked the first offering from Greisinger down the right-field line, but just foul. Greisinger then got him to ground out to first to preserve the Giants' one-run lead.
Chunichi out-hit the Giants 8-6 on the night with Lee, Morino and Nakamura each getting a pair of singles for the Dragons. No one on the Giants had a multihit game and Takahashi's homer was the only extra-base hit in the game.
The result means the Giants improve to 6-10-1 on the season while Chunichi's record falls to 10-6-1. At 13-3, the Hanshin Tigers are leading the CL standings.
Elsewhere in the CL, the Yakult Swallows-Yokohama BayStars game at Jingu Stadium and the Hanshin Tigers-Hiroshima Carp matchup at Koshien Stadium were rained out.
In the Pacific League, the Rakuten Eagles pounded Lotte 11-2 at Chiba Marine Stadium. The Orix Buffaloes-Softbank Hawks game at Skymark Stadium was rained out.
(IHT/Asahi: April 18,2008)