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Jim Allen

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Returning Giants crush Swallows

by Jim Allen (Jul 28, 2008)

The wait appears to be over for the Giants, who've had to play more than half their season without slugging infielders Lee Seung Yeop and Tomohiro Nioka.

On Sunday, each drove in a run as Yomiuri completed a three-game sweep of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows with a 7-0 victory at Tokyo Dome.

Lee, who returned to the team on the Giants after missing most of the season with a bad thumb, blasted a high pitch from Ryo Kawashima to open the sixth inning with an impressive homer, his first of the year.

"I was away for a long time and it felt great to get a hit, even better that it was a home run," said Lee, who will have two more games with the Giants before joining South Korea's team for the Beijing Olympics.

"We have two more games left [in Hiroshima], and I really want to hit well in them--do whatever little thing I can."

Lee had been working on the farm team to stay in shape but said his timing was off against facing Central League pitching.

"I had to shorten my stroke a bit and it seems to have helped," he said. "There is more late movement on the balls here and though I was prepared, when I first came back my timing was late."

With one out in the sixth and a 4-0 Giants lead, Nioka pinch-hit with a runner on second and drove in his first run of the season.

The infielder, whose association with TV news personality Mona Yamamoto had brought unwelcome attention from the media, was warmly received by fans.

"We've been waiting and waiting [for Lee] and now he is here, and so is the other one we've been waiting for [Nioka]," said Giants manager Tatsunori Hara. "Now we expect them to gradually pick it up."

After successfully playing catchup in the first two games of the series, the Giants sped on to the scoreboard early, and starter Hiroshi Kisanuki held the Swallows scoreless for six innings.

"I was sent down to the farm and told to do more with my fastball," Kisanuki (6-3) said. "I fell behind too many counts today, but I could make my pitches when it counted--even though they must have been looking fastball."

Kisanuki allowed five hits and struck out four without allowing a walk.

"He showed me that he doesn't have to always rely on his breaking ball to get outs," said Hara.

The Giants' Takahiro Suzuki used his speed to seize a first-inning lead. The switch-hitter drew a leadoff walk from Kawashima (5-4), and his 12th steal of the season put him on second with no outs. Suzuki went to third on a sacrifice and opened the scoring on a groundout.

Kawashima surrendered another score on three second-inning singles, with Suzuki driving in the run. A walk cost the right-hander again in the fifth, when Takuya Kimura scored from first on Michihiro Ogasawara's opposite-field double to left.

The Giants completed working over the Kawashima in the sixth, when Lee slammed his leadoff homer. Hayato Sakamoto then doubled and scored his second run of the game on Nioka's single.


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