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Ramirez clutch as Giants win

by Jim Allen (May 11, 2008)

The second time Alex Ramirez got the pitch he was looking for, he got the job done.

The Yomiuri cleanup hitter, whose first two hits only led to his being stranded in scoring position, singled home the tie-breaking run in the eighth inning as the Giants defeated the Chunichi Dragons 5-4 at Tokyo Dome on Saturday evening.

With two outs and a runner on third, Ramirez got the first-pitch, inside fastball he expected and smacked it into left field.

"They're throwing pitches I'm looking for and I'm not missing those pitches," said Ramirez, who went 3-for-5 with a double but afterward admitted he wasn't always hitting those pitches.

Knowing how catcher Motonobu Tanishige likes to work to him, Ramirez had gotten what he wanted in the first inning.

"Same thing, but I missed it. I thought I was going to hit a home run," Ramirez said of his grounder to second that was turned for a double play.

Facing lefty Chen Wei-yin (2-2) with two outs in the eighth and a runner on third, Ramirez went up with the same plan, expecting his pitch and expecting to hit it. And this time it worked.

"A lot of times Tanishige tried to call a first pitch for a strike and I was ready for that," Ramirez said.

The Giants scored four runs off tough right-hander Kazuki Yoshimi but were made to battle as the Dragons came back on homers by Tyrone Woods and Thomas De La Rosa.

De La Rosa's pinch-hit solo shot tied it in the eighth off lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi (3-1). Marc Kroon allowed two singles in the ninth but recorded his 10th save.

In the bottom of the eighth, left-handed-hitting leadoff man Yoshiyuki Kamei battled Chen, fouling off a pair of 1-2 deliveries before drawing a walk on eight pitches from the 21-year-old.

"I'm sure he wasn't looking to walk in that situation, but he had a great at-bat nevertheless," said Giants manager Tatsunori Hara.

Hayato Sakamoto, who homered in the first inning, sacrificed. Kamei went to third on a groundout before trotting home on Ramirez's single.

In the fourth, Kamei saved a run with a good catch in right field and then tripled home two runs in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-0.

The Giants became the first team this season to score on Yoshimi before the fourth inning, when Sakamoto launched an 0-1 fastball into the seats for a first-inning solo home run. It was the 19-year-old's third homer and his first since he went deep in two straight games on April 6 and 8.

Ramirez offered Sakamoto some useful advice on his batting before the game.

"I told him his timing was a little off, his timing was too fast," Ramirez said. "I said maybe he should take a pitch and take it from there and that's the way it worked out."

The Giants made it 2-0 in the second, when Luis Gonzalez walked with one out, and scored from second when Ryota Wakiya pounded a hanging forkball for a double.

Yoshimi had entered the game with four wins and one no-decision in five impressive starts, but the Giants made him pay for his mistakes. Giants right-hander Takahiko Nomaguchi, meanwhile, didn't allow a runner until Hirokazu Ibata beat out a one-out grounder in the fourth.

Once forced to work out of a stretch, however, Nomaguchi couldn't keep his sliders and forkballs down and they became a ticking time bomb.

Kazuhiro Wada led off the fifth with a broken-bat single, and Nomaguchi allowed two more singles on high pitches before Tanishige's sacrifice fly made it 4-1. A one-out, sixth-inning walk to Ibata culminated in a high forkball to Woods. The slumping cleanup hitter, who had lined a high slider that Kamei caught in the fourth, hit this one where it couldn't be caught.

Woods' sixth homer of the season was also his first with at least a man on.

Nomaguchi, who allowed three runs in six innings, struck out five and walked one. He singled in the fourth inning and scored on Kamei's triple.


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