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Turning on the power / Ogasawara drives in 6 with 2 HRs; Ramirez, Lee also homer as Giants rout Drag

by John E. Gibson (Oct 24, 2008)

The Yomiuri Giants were credited with their first-ever Climax Series win earlier this month when they claimed the Central League pennant and a one-game advantage in the best-of-seven clash.

They earned their first-ever on-field CLCS win on Thursday night after Michihiro Ogasawara made Tokyo Dome look like a Little League park, belting a pair of homers--including a grand slam--and driving in six runs in an 11-2 Game 2 laugher over the Chunichi Dragons.

Ogasawara, nicknamed Guts, helped the Giants gut the Dragons, cracking a two-run homer in the first inning and a grand slam in the second before a delirious crowd of 43,536.

Alex Ramirez and Lee Seung Yeop also homered as the Giants banged out 17 hits to provide more than enough support for starter Koji Uehara and take a 2-1 lead in the series.

"Tonight was the ideal way for our offense to put up runs," said Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara. "We weren't able to come up with that next run yesterday, but we really put some big hits together tonight.

"Now we have to concentrate on playing the next game."

Ogasawara said the Game 1 loss was in the back of his mind when he hit his first homer in the opening frame.

"We were frustrated about last night's game, and I thought the start of the game would be important," said Ogasawara, who won the MVP award in the Pacific League in 2006 and the CL honor last season.

About the grand slam, the first in Climax Series history, he said, "The guys did a good job of getting on base to set the table, so I wanted to make the most of the opportunity."

The slugger said the series, which continues tonight at the Dome, is far from over.

"We've only won one game. We still have some big games to play," Ogasawara said.

The Giants, who finished 27 games over .500, were 10-14 against the Dragons in the regular season and hadn't beaten them on the field in the previous four CLCS games, including a three-game sweep in a best-of-five matchup last year.

Everything seemed to go right at the plate for Yomiuri, especially from the heart of the order. The Nos. 3-4-5 hitters went a combined 8-for-15 with all 11 RBIs.

Even leadoff man Yoshiyuki Kamei collected three hits and Uehara had an infield single in the second inning to become the lead runner to score on Ogasawara's slam.

But it was Uehara's work on the mound that made the difference after the Giants got the lead. He allowed a pair of solo homers, but kept the Dragons guessing over eight innings of work.

He was in such a good mood after the game, he had time to make quips during the on-field interview.

"We got all those runs early, so that's what I can say about my pitching," joked Uehara, who held the Dragons to two runs on four hits with no walks and nine strikeouts.

"If I had given up that lead, I don't know what I would have said to Ogasawara. So I'm glad I was able to protect it."

Uehara said Yomiuri is focused on being the best in Japan.

"We're thinking about nothing but going to the Japan Series," he said. "We still need two more wins, but I hope I can be back here on the podium for the Japan Series."

The Dragons lost just their third game in two seasons of CLCS play, and it was over early as the Giants built an 8-2 lead by the fourth inning.

Chunichi starter Kenta Asakura, who hadn't pitched on the first team since July 3, shouldered the blame for the loss after getting knocked around for six runs on nine hits in just two innings.

"I got an opportunity to pitch and I just blew the game," Asakura said. "There isn't much I can say."

Chunichi took an early lead for the second straight day. Masahiko Morino drove a 2-2 pitch out to right for a solo home run with two outs in the top of the first, one shy of the two longballs the Dragons hit in the opening inning of Game 1.

The Giants, however, came right back off Asakura. Kamei laced the first pitch he saw into right for a single and was sacrificed to second.

Ogasawara fell behind 1-2, but still managed to crush a high fastball, sending it deep into the seats in right to give the Giants a 2-1 lead.

Uehara kicked off the next rally, hitting a nubber that stayed fair down the third-base line for an infield single. Kamei again whacked the first pitch from Asakura, this time into right for a single, and Takuya Kimura followed with a base hit to load the bases.

Ogasawara got ahead in the count and then launched a 2-1 offering over the fence in right.

Ramirez hit a two-run shot in the fourth and Lee sent a solo shot to left in the seventh inning. Pinch-hitter Ryuichi Kajimae's two-run single in the eighth closed out the scoring.


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