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Rob Smaal

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Giants bust out broomsticks

by Rob Smaal (Apr 25, 2008)

Michihiro Ogasawara drilled a Takumi Nasuno fastball Thursday night at Tokyo Dome while Hisanori Takahashi simply drilled Nasuno as the Yomiuri Giants completed a three-game sweep of the Yokohama BayStars.

Ogasawara smacked a first-inning three-run homer off Nasuno and Takahashi (2-2) held the BayStars to two runs off five hits in seven innings as Yomiuri prevailed 6-2 in the Central League matchup.

"I initially tried bunting and screwed that up so I swung away and was lucky enough to hit a home run," said Ogasawara.

Giants catcher Shinnosuke Abe hit his first home run of 2008, a solo shot in the sixth inning off reliever Shoma Sato, and Alex Ramirez added another solo homer in the eighth, his sixth this season. Hayato Sakamoto had four hits for Yomiuri.

Sakamoto led off the game for the Giants with a double and Yoshitomo Tani drew a walk, setting the table for Ogasawara. The reigning league MVP pulled a fastball just over the fence in right field for his fifth longball of the season.

While batting in the third inning, Nasuno was hit on the left shoulder by a pitch from Takahashi, forcing the left-hander to leave the game prematurely. Another lefty, Sato, came on to replace Nasuno to pitch the bottom of the third.

In the top of the fourth, BayStars veteran outfielder Tatsuhiko Kinjo led off with a triple off the wall in center that probably should have been caught by Tani. Kinjo then came home on a groundout to short by cleanup hitter Shuichi Murata to make it 3-1.

Abe smoked a Shoma delivery over the fence in the sixth, however, to restore the three-run margin. Last season, Abe cranked out 33 home runs and drove in 101 runs.

In the top of the seventh, Yokohama's Ryoji Aikawa tripled past a sliding Yoshinobu Takahashi in right and scored when pinch-hitter Seiichi Uchikawa hit a sacrifice fly to left.

Sakamoto, Yomiuri's 19-year-old shortstop, drove in an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth with a bases-loaded single off reliever Kentaro Kuwahara, who had given up Ramirez's home run to lead off the inning.

Sakamoto was 4-for-5 on the night with a double, three singles, an RBI and a run scored. He is hitting .313 this season after taking over at short for the injured Tomohiro Nioka.

"I like to see runners on base when I come up so it was a good night to get four hits," said Sakamoto.

Abe, Ramirez, Takuya Kimura and Luis Gonzalez each had a pair of hits for the Giants. Aikawa had three of Yokohama's eight hits on the night.

Nasuno (1-3) was the hard-luck loser for Yokohama. Besides getting hit with a pitch, he gave up three runs on four hits in just two innings of work.

The Giants inched a game closer to the .500 mark with a 10-12-1 record, while last-place Yokohama dropped to 4-16-1.

Elsewhere in the CL, the Carp defeated the Yakult Swallows 5-3 at Hiroshima Stadium.

In the Pacific League, the Nippon-Ham Fighters beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-2 in 10 innings at Sapporo Dome. The Rakuten Eagles-Softbank Hawks game and the Lotte Marines-Seibu Lions matchup were both rained out.

(IHT/Asahi: April 25,2008)


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