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John E. Gibson

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Giants wallop sinking 'Stars

by John E. Gibson (Aug 27, 2008)

The excitement generated from a walk-off win the night before inspired a walkover.

The Giants, whose ninth-inning comeback on Monday fueled hopes the second-place Yomiuri can chase down Hanshin for the Central League title, got early offense and great relief on Tuesday to cruise past the last-place Yokohama BayStars 7-3 at Tokyo Dome.

Lefty starter Tetsuya Utsumi--minus his best stuff--and the Giants rode a six-run first inning for a relatively worry-free victory over the steadily-fading BayStars (37-68).

The win allowed Yomiuri to move 11 games over .500 and keep pace with front-running Hanshin, which blanked Chunichi 4-0 at Koshien Stadium to remain eight games in front of last year's CL champs.

Yomiuri skipper Tatsunori Hara said the offense got Utsumi the win.

"He just didn't have it today," Hara said about lifting Utsumi after five innings. "He wasn't able to attack hitters the way he normally does.

"The other guys picked him up tonight and got him this win. Maybe he can pick them up next time," said Hara, whose team is now 12-4 against the hapless BayStars.

Utsumi (9-7) wobbled through the minimum needed for a win, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks before getting the hook. Scoreless relief from Daisuke Ochi, Tetsuya Yamaguchi, Kiyoshi Toyoda and Marc Kroon, who closed it out in a non-save situation, preserved the victory.

"I couldn't get on course tonight. I don't know why," said Utsumi, who had just two strikeouts.

"This was my most frustrating game of the season."

Takahiro Suzuki had two hits, a walk and scored a run and Hayato Sakamoto had two hits, including his sixth homer, a solo shot for his only RBI.

The crowd of 40,949 saw a lot of Yomiuri fireworks in the opening frame and little from the home team afterward.

BayStars starter Yuji Yoshimi (1-3) allowed the Giants to hit for a game's worth of offense in the first inning.

He surrendered six hits, including a three-run shot by Shinnosuke Abe for his 14th homer, and walked three in the inning.

"I wanted to be aggressive from the first pitch and take advantage of anything in the strike zone," said Abe, in his first game since returning from the Beijing Olympics.

With the bases loaded and none out, Alex Ramirez fought off a pitch for a dunker into right-center field--his first hit in three games--that gave the Giants a 2-0 lead.

After Abe's longball, Suzuki collected his second hit of the inning--an RBI single-- as the Giants sent 12 men to the plate.


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