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Rob Smaal

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Giants' gutsy bats crush Dragons

by Rob Smaal (May 12, 2008)

No Guts, no glory.

Michihiro "Guts" Ogasawara hit a tiebreaking solo home run to spark a three-run sixth inning Sunday night at Tokyo Dome and Seth Greisinger picked up his fifth win of the season as the Yomiuri Giants topped the defending Japan Series champion Chunichi Dragons 9-3.

Rookie Tomoya Inzen had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a stolen base, and Alex Ramirez hit his Central League-leading 11th homer for the Giants.

Right-hander Greisinger threw seven innings of four-hit ball to improve to 5-1 on the season. Greisinger allowed three runs--all in the third inning--while striking out five and walking three.

Kentaro Nishimura and Daisuke Ochi each worked a hitless inning in relief to finish off what Greisinger started.

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara liked what he'd been seeing from Inzen and decided to give the 23-year-old outfielder his first start with the big club.

"Inzen has looked good in practice so I decided to start him tonight, and I'm glad I did," said Hara. "Except for the third inning, when we gave up those runs, it was almost a perfect game for us. It's great to see the young guys playing so well."

Dragons starter Kenichi Nakata (4-3), pitching on his 26th birthday, took the loss. The Chunichi righty allowed six runs (five earned) on nine hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight and walked one.

Yoshiyuki Kamei led off the bottom of the first with a single back up the middle for the Giants and he ended up on third base when Nakata made an errant throw to first on a pick-off attempt. Hayato Sakamoto sent a sacrifice fly to center field that allowed Kamei to motor home with the game's first run.

Sakamoto, Yomiuri's 19-year-old shortstop, also flashed the leather in the second inning, making a diving stab on a hot grounder to his right to start a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

Ramirez continued to swing a hot bat for Yomiuri. He clubbed his CL-best 11th home run of the season in the fourth frame, a 110-meter solo shot to right with two out off Nakata.

Kamei hit a two-out RBI double in the fifth and Ogasawara led off the Giants' half of the sixth with a solo shot of his own, a 135-meter drive into the seats in center field off a Nakata breaking ball that put Yomiuri ahead 4-3. Inzen tacked on another run in the sixth with an RBI single that scored Ramirez from third and Ryota Wakiya then singled in another run.

The Giants added three more in the seventh with Luis Gonzalez rapping an RBI single and Inzen slugging a two-run double, both off reliever Hiroki Kongo.

Chunichi got all three of its runs in the third. Masahiko Morino scored from third on a wild pitch by Greisinger and Hirokazu Ibata lined a two-run single to right to give Chunichi a 3-1 lead.

The Giants, who won the CL flag last season, improved to 18-19-1 with the win. The second-place Dragons dropped to 21-13-3.

(IHT/Asahi: May 12,2008)


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