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Rob Smaal

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Big party at Rami's house

by Rob Smaal (May 26, 2008)

Cleanup hitter Alex Ramirez walloped a solo home run and added an RBI double at Tokyo Dome on Sunday night, leading his Yomiuri Giants to a 6-4 victory over the Nippon-Ham Fighters in interleague play.

Ramirez's eighth-inning homer off Fighters reliever Yachiho Hoshino--his league-leading 17th of the season--was crushed to deep left, bouncing off a Kirin beer advertising placard and likely earning Ramirez a year's supply of free suds for his efforts.

"I'm feeling pretty good at the plate right now," said Ramirez. "I just want to help this team win as many games as possible."

Takuya Kimura also had a home run and a double for the Giants, driving in two runs, but the night belonged to Ramirez, who also scored three times.

Ramirez bashed an RBI double off the wall in left field to open the scoring in the first inning off Fighters starter Shugo Fujii. Ramirez has now hit safely in 20 straight games, tying a Giants' record for foreign players. Warren Cromartie also accomplished the feat in 1990.

The Venezuelan slugger, in his first year with the club, is having another super season at the plate. Through Sunday's game, Rami is hitting .323 to go along with his league-best 17 jacks and 43 RBIs.

Shinnosuke Abe followed Ramirez with a first-inning RBI double of his own to make it 2-0 but Terrmel Sledge took Yomiuri starter Hiroshi Kisanuki for a ride downtown with a man aboard in the top of the second to square things up. Sledge's homer, a 125-meter shot to center off a belt-high fastball, was his seventh of the season.

Kimura slammed the first offering from Fujii in the bottom of the inning over the fence in right. His solo opposite-field shot restored the Giants' lead, but it wouldn't last long.

After Kensuke Tanaka singled to lead off the fourth, Atsunori Inaba stepped into a Kisanuki pitch and deposited it into the stands in left, his eighth tater of 2008.

But, in typical tit-for-tat fashion that seemed to be the order of the day, Kimura pounded an RBI double down the left-field line in the bottom half of the fourth to tie it 4-4.

In the sixth, Ramirez led off with a groundball up the middle that was booted by shortstop Chonso Yo. Abe grounded out and after Yoshitomo Tani singled, Fighters skipper Masataka Nashida gave Fujii the hook.

Reliever Yataro Sakamoto was brought in to face Kimura, whose fielder's choice grounder moved Ramirez to third. Nashida then went to his bullpen again, bringing in Ken Miyamoto to face pinch-hitter Takayuki Shimizu. Miyamoto's first delivery was a wild pitch in the dirt that ended up at the backstop, allowing Ramirez to come home with the go-ahead run.

(IHT/Asahi: May 26,2008)


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