The Giants' Alex Ramirez gave new meaning to the old baseball expression "Hit 'em where they ain't."
A night after a fan may or may not have touched a deep fly to left off Ramirez's bat --a hit eventually ruled a double--the slugger reached the photographers' seats in center with a two-run homer in the eighth inning as Yomiuri avoided a sweep with a 6-5 comeback win over Hanshin before 41,594 on Thursday at Tokyo Dome.
"I'm very happy right now," said Ramirez, who took loser Tomoyuki Kubota (1-1) deep for his Central League-leading 10th homer.
"What I actually had in mind was to hit the ball to the opposite field to move the runner over to second base. But I put a good swing on that ball and it went out. It's a great feeling.
"They took one away from me last night, but not today," added Ramirez, whose drive came after Michihiro Ogasawara led off the inning with a double.
The Giants had the front-running Tigers grumbling after the game. Hanshin had rallied to take the lead with a four-run fifth inning, and had set-up man Kubota on the mound with a chance to sweep the three-game series.
"You can't give up runs in that situation. You just can't," was all Hanshin skipper Akinobu Okada had to say after the loss, which dropped the CL leaders to 23-10.
Yomiuri was glad to get the victory, but had to raid its bullpen after starter Masafumi Togano went to the showers with just three innings under his belt.
"Today's game, the win was big for us," Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara said. "But we have some young players who are getting time out there and they have to step up and compete."
Southpaw reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi (2-1) struck out four in two scoreless innings to earn the win, and Marc Kroon came in and fired an economical 10 darts to wrap it up for his ninth save.
The Tigers jumped on top with a run in the third inning. With two outs, Norihiro Akahoshi dropped a looper down the left-field line in for a double.
Hara decided to pull the outfield in to cut down a runner at the plate in case of a single, but the strategy backfired when Keiichi Hirano lined a shot over Takayuki Shimizu for an RBI triple and a 1-0 Hanshin lead.
The Giants, though, came right back to tie the score.
Ryota Wakiya's drive carried to the wall in left center and he sped all the way to third to open the third inning. Hara gave starter Togano the early hook in favor of pinch-hitter Tomoya Inzen, who singled in Wakiya to tie the score at 1-1, but got nailed at second trying to stretch it into a double.
That mistake cost the Giants a run because Yoshiyuki Kamei followed with a double, and Hayato Sakamoto and Ogasawara both came up with hits, the last one giving Yomiuri a 2-1 lead.
Ramirez, though, grounded into an inning-ending double play to let Ryan Vogelsong escape with minimum damage.
The Tigers then took control with a four-run fifth inning. A hit and two walks loaded the bases, and with two outs Takashi Toritani grounded a 3-2 pitch into right for a two-run single. Even light-hitting Toshihiro Noguchi got in on the act, smacking a double to the wall in left to plate two for a 5-2 lead.
Vogelsong departed with two on and one out in the sixth. Luis Gonzalez's two-out, two-run single off reliever Hirotaka Egusa in the sixth got the Giants to within a run at 5-4 and closed the books on Vogelsong, who allowed four runs in 5-1/3 innings.
The right-hander surrendered eight hits and left with the lead before the bullpen blew it.