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Tani helps Giants rally past Swallows

by Jim Allen (Jul 26, 2008)

One inning of disciplined batting was all the Giants needed on Friday.

After flailing all night against Swallows side-armer Yohei Tateyama, Yomiuri's hitters forced closer Lim Chang Yong throw strikes and pulled off a 3-2 come-from-behind victory at Tokyo Dome.

Yoshitomo Tani's pinch-hit sayonara single capped a two-run rally against the South Korean side- armer, who failed to pick up his 25th save of the year.

"I had a slider in mind and that's what I got," said Tani, who grounded a 2-1 pitch up the middle to end it. "It was really a good situation. I had to get a hit and I was energized."

The Giants struck out 11 times in eight innings against Tateyama, something Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara was less than pleased with.

"We need to consider how to eliminate those swings on balls [out of the zone]. We simply struck out too much," Hara said. "We were doing that the past week, too--striking out too much."

In the ninth, however, it was another story.

Michihiro Ogasawara, who had swung and missed at five pitches out of the zone in his first two at-bats, lined a 2-2 Lim pitch to right for a leadoff double. Alex Ramirez singled him to third on a high 1-1 pitch and followed up with a steal.

An intentional walk followed. With one outShinnosuke Abe was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to tie it 2-2. Tani then came off the bench to send most of the crowd of 44,076 home happy.

The Swallows had had a chance to tack on an insurance run in the eighth against Giants starter Hisanori Takahashi but were turned away on a busted suicide squeeze.

With one out and runners on the corners, Hara called for a pitchout on the first delivery from right-hander Kentaro Nishimura. Although nothing was on, the skipper tried again on a 2-1 count and this time it paid off. The lead runner was run down trying to return to third and Nishimura kept the game close.

"Three runs was really the cutoff point for us," said Hara. "If they have three, we need four and would probably have to load the bases.

"I figured we needed an all-out defense against that third run."

Moments after dodging that bullet, the Giants halved the Swallows lead.

Abe, leading off the bottom of the eighth, fouled trying to bunt Tateyama's first pitch for a base hit. He swung away on the next pitch and launched it into the seats for his 11th homer of the year.

Reliever Daisuke Ochi (1-2) set the Swallows down in order in the ninth, ushering in Lim for the final inning and an unhappy ending for the Swallows--something made possible by Takahashi's strong effort

According to Hara, Takahashi's lone mistake was his first pitch of the game--a high fastball Kazuki Fukuchi hit for a double that turned into a run.

"He allowed two runs, and if your starter does that, you're going to win some games," Hara said. "Other than the first pitch, it was his kind of game."

Takahashi, who struck out 10, also allowed a solo homer in the fourth, when Yasushi Iihara took advantage of the Dome's shallow power alleys to loft a high fly over the right-field wall. Takahashi walked off the mound after allowing a pair of scratch singles to open the eighth but suffered no further damage.

With five games remaining before the All-Star break, first baseman Lee Seung Yeop returned to the Giants lineup for the first time since April 13 and went 0-for-4.


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