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Rob Smaal

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Furuki's big blast propels Giants

by Rob Smaal (Jul 3, 2008)

Shigeyuki Furuki smacked a two-run home run in the eighth inning Wednesday at Tokyo Dome, giving the Yomiuri Giants a come-from-behind 7-5 win over the Yakult Swallows.

Furuki, who started the game on the bench and didn't swing a bat until the seventh inning, launched his game-deciding shot to right field off Swallows reliever Takehiko Oshimoto (2-2), who ended up taking the loss.

The Giants entered the eighth down 5-3, but Yoshinobu Takahashi--another late-game entry--hit an RBI single to narrow the margin before Takuya Kimura's sacrifice fly to left off Oshimoto tied it up. That set the stage for Furuki, whose home run was his third of the season.

"I was just trying to get a hit there, but luckily I got a home run," said Furuki. "It was nice to hit it into the right-field stands, where our fans were cheering so loud and hard."

Furuki's tater made a winner of Koji Uehara, who relieved starter Adrian Burnside to start the seventh. Despite picking up his first win of the season, Uehara (1-4) had a horrible outing, allowing three runs (one earned) on six hits in two innings.

Giants closer Marc Kroon picked up his 20th save, but not before making it interesting. Kroon gave up two hits, but got Hiroyasu Tanaka to ground out with runners at second and third.

Hayato Sakamoto was 3-for-3 for the Giants with three singles and a walk.

Norichika Aoki and Wilson Valdez had three hits each for Yakult, with Wilson getting his first home run in Japan.

The Giants struck first, getting a pair of runs in the home half of the fourth on back-to-back RBI singles by Kazunari Tsuruoka and Sakamoto off Swallows starter Kyohei Muranaka.

In the top of the fifth, Swallows newcomer Valdez led off the inning by dialing long distance, a solo shot to left off Burnside. A sacrifice fly to right by Kazuhiro Hatakeyama in the sixth scored Shinya Miyamoto, who had reached earlier in the inning on an error charged to second baseman Manabu Iwadate.

Uehara replaced Burnside to start the seventh and Valdez led off the inning with a double, but was later thrown out trying to advance to third on a groundball hit back to Uehara. Three batters later, veteran infielder Miyamoto lashed an RBI single up the middle. Yomiuri center-fielder Yoshitomo Tani's throw home was off target as pinch-runner Kazuki Fukuchi raced home with the go-ahead run.

The Giants tied it 3-3 in the bottom half when Tani dribbled a little squibber down the third-base line that was fielded by reliever Kenichi Matsuoka. His throw to first was high, however, pulling Hatakeyama off the bag and allowing Kimura to trot home with the tying run.

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara elected to start an all right-handed hitting lineup against lefty Muranaka. Among the regular starters left on the bench to start the game were right-fielder Takahashi and first baseman Michihiro Ogasawara, who combined to strike out seven times in Tuesday's 7-4 loss to Yakult.


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