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Jim Allen

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Giants deliver 9th-inning knockout

by Jim Allen (Aug 26, 2008)

The Giants needed a dramatic final act, and Shigeyuki Furuki was more than willing to take center stage.

Making a rare start, Furuki's two-run, ninth-inning double lifted Yomiuri to a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over the Chunichi Dragons at Tokyo Dome on Monday.

"I wanted so badly to win this one," said Furuki. "Although we were losing by a good margin, I didn't think we couldn't come back. I'm sure everyone was confident.

The Giants, who were two-hit the night before, foiled themselves for most of the night by swinging at deliveries out of the zone by Chunichi starter Kenichi Nakata. The right-hander struck out 11, but finally conceded three runs in the bottom of the sixth as the Giants closed to within a run.

Trailing 5-3 in the ninth against baby-faced right-hander Takuya Asao, the Giants opened with back to back singles by Tomohiro Nioka and pinch-hitter Yoshitomo Tani. Yoshiyuki Kamei followed with an RBI double.

With two outs and the bases loaded, the Giants were still trailing by a run when Furuki drove the third pitch from Asao (0-1) to the gap in right.

"That drama is what he brings to games," said Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said of Furuki.

Although Furuki struck out his first time up, he finished the evening 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs.

Nakata picked up his biggest strikeout against Kamei, who entered as a pinch-hitter with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth.

The Dragons repeatedly threatened to score and finally cashed in when Olympian Masahiro Araki doubled in three runs in the top of the fifth. Lee Byung Kyu's single made it 4-0.

A night after veteran lefty Masahiro Yamamoto handcuffed the Giants, Nakata had them looking at curves in the strike zone and missing fork balls out of it.

"It's frustrating to watch that," Hara said. "We played into his hands and we have to address that."

Nakata knocked himself out of the game in the bottom of the Giants' three-run sixth, when he stumbled racing to back up home plate on Hayato Sakamoto's two-run single.

Michihiro Ogasawara opened the inning with a loud single and went to second when Yoshinobu Takahashi walked with one out. Furuki doubled in Ogasawara. Pinch-hitter Noriyoshi Omichi fouled off five straight fastballs in the zone being rung out on a half swing at a forkball below the knees.

Nakata was one out from safety, but Sakamoto got good wood on a 1-0 fastball low and away to drive in two. As the Chunichi hurler rushed to back up home, he caught his spikes on the edge of the plastic grass circling home base. Nakata flew into the path of Takahashi, who tumbled over the pitcher. Nakata was done after 5-2/3 innings.

An insurance run in the top of the ninth appeared to finish off the Giants, but they would not die.

The Dragons came very close to scoring in the first, when leadoff man Hirokazu Ibata tripled off the glove of center fielder Takahiro Suzuki. When the ball rolled along the wall toward left, Ibata opened the throttle all the way. The Giants needed a snappy relay to get Ibata, and shortstop Sakamoto delivered: The ball was in time and on target to catcher Ken Kato.

The Dragons continued to pepper Giants lefty Hisanori Takahashi, but didn't break through until the fifth. After Issei Nakamura drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second, the Giants pitched around No. 8 hitter Motonobu Tanishige.

Nakata forced the runner at third, but putting Tanishige and his .296 on-base percentage on base allowed Ibata to bat with two outs. The Dragons sparkplug, who twice hit long deep drives just foul, reached on an infield single to load them up for Araki.


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