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Nishiguchi, Lions roar past Giants

by Jim Allen (Jun 10, 2008)

Fumiya Nishiguchi appears to have found his feet at Tokyo Dome. After snapping a 3,976-day winless streak here in 2007, the right-hander won his second straight start at what had been his house of horror.

The 35-year-old allowed three runs in five innings, and Craig Brazell and Hiroyuki Nakajima each hit three-run homers as the Saitama Seibu Lions beat Yomiuri 9-3 on Monday, snapping the Giants' four-game winning streak.

For one inning, it looked like yet another nightmare here for Nishiguchi. He was gifted a one-run lead in the top of the first, but quickly flushed it in the bottom of the inning.

"After getting a first-inning lead my whole body was too tight and I have to admit my pitches were up in the zone," Nishiguchi (3-3) said. "Because our guys put so many runs on the board, I was able to make it through five. I owe them."

Giants starter Seth Greisinger (6-4), making his second start against the Pacific League leaders, also got an early one-run lead only to blow it.

Like eerie music foreshadowing danger in a horror movie, the Lions onslaught was ushered in by thunder rattling the dome's roof in the top of the third inning.

Two singles, a liner and a blooper, brought Brazell to the plate as the thunder roared outside. After missing a changeup high and away, the next changeup was high and outside, but Brazell launched it over the wall in right center for his fourth home run in five games and his PL-best 17th.

Lions skipper Hisanobu Watanabe is glad now he left the cleanup hitter in the lineup to get things squared away.

"He was really out of form until recently and I thought a bit about benching him, but I stuck with him," Watanabe said of Brazell, who went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBIs.

"He was offering at a lot of balls out of the zone. We could tell him not to go after those, but he knows it. Recently he's been seeing them very well, not swinging at so many of them and making the pitchers come to him."

Nakajima, who took Greisinger deep for one of his three homers off Giants pitching this year, did it again in the fourth. With one out, Nishiguchi singled. With two down, Kuriyama singled in his third straight at-bat. Nakajima then followed with his 13th homer of the season.

Giants rookie Ryuichi Kajimae trimmed the Lions' lead to four runs with a solo homer off Nishiguchi. It was the second of Kajimae's six-game Central League career. His first, three nights earlier, was the only sayonara home run in a debut at-bat in Japan pro history.

Nishiguchi, who was winless at Tokyo Dome between his 12-inning complete game victory here on Aug. 3, 1996 and a six-inning win against the Giants last June 24, allowed seven hits and a walk and did not strike out a batter.

"He knew he had to go five innings, and he did his job," Watanabe said.

Greisinger, who last month gave up seven runs in five innings against Seibu, gave up seven in just four innings. He surrendered 11 hits and two walks, while striking out four.

The Lions drew first blood after Greisinger picked Takumi Kuriyama off first base for the second out. A walk and back-to-back singles by Brazell and G.G. Sato pushed across the game's first run.

Greisinger loaded the bases with another walk but survived further damage, and Alex Ramirez's two-run single gave the Giants the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Ramirez's two RBIs gave him 804 for his career, leaving him four short of Bobby Rose' CL record 808 for foreign-registered players.


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