If the Yomiuri Giants are going to make it to the playoffs, they are going to have to learn to help themselves.
Seth Greisinger helped himself by pitching out of a pair of early jams and laying down the first suicide squeeze of his life in a 4-1 win over the Yokohama BayStars on Friday at Tokyo Dome. The victory moved the Giants into second place for the first time this season.
Greisinger (8-6) escaped first-inning trouble he aggravated with a throwing error and a bases- loaded jam in the second to work seven scoreless innings. He allowed eight hits and a walk.
With a one-run lead in the fourth, he came up with one out and runners on the corners and had to check with the coach that it was a squeeze on a 2-0 count.
"I had an idea it was a squeeze so I wanted to be sure. I didn't want to screw it up," Greisinger said. "It was my first time since my freshman year in high school, and I missed that one.
"I just wanted to get the bat on the ball."
He got down a beauty and it threw BayStars starter Takumi Nasuno into panic mode. High pitches to Yoshinobu Takahashi and Manabu Iwadate followed and both were hit for RBI doubles.
The Giants got on the board in the second inning on Yoshitomo Tani's opposite-field solo home run.
After the BayStars had enough luck to load the bases with no outs in the top of the inning but not score, the Giants caught a break in the bottom of the second. Tani got a 1-2 fastball low and away and hit a 9-iron just over the wall in right for his fifth homer.
Having escaped the jam in the second, Tani's homer gave Greisinger a chance to regroup. In the top of the third, a great play in right field by Takahashi on a line drive by Central League batting leader Seiichi Uchikawa gave him some more innings.
"I had thrown a lot of pitches early, and he hit a good pitch," Greisinger said. "It could have been a double. That allowed me to get out of that inning, saving me a lot of pitches."
Nasuno (5-10) stranded two in the inning, and two more in the third before the Giants lit it up in the fourth inning.
The BayStars, who entered with two straight wins and a chance to match their longest streak of the season, opened the game with a hot hand, but Greisinger was able to cool them off.
Back-to-back one-out singles and an error set the visitors up to draw first blood. With one out and runners on the corners, however, the BayStars ran into a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play.
Nasuno needed just 10 pitches to retire the Giants in the bottom of the first, and the Giants appeared ready to self destruct in the top of the second. The second of two no-out singles got past left fielder Alex Ramirez to put runners on second and third. An infield single loaded the bases with no outs.
It would have been a good time for reserve catcher Shinji Niinuma to get his fourth career hit, but Greisinger worked him outside before busting him inside on a 2-2 count to produce a pop fly. A strikeout of Nasuno and a groundout by the leadoff hitter sent the BayStars away empty-handed.