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Rob Smaal

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Nippon Series Game 4: Lions roar back to even series

by Rob Smaal (Nov 6, 2008)

SAITAMA--Lions pitcher Takayuki Kishi set the table and slugger Takeya Nakamura feasted on Yomiuri pitching Wednesday night in Game 4 of the Japan Series, homering twice as Seibu topped the Giants 5-0 in a feisty affair to even the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

Nakamura, a portly third baseman nicknamed "Okawari-chan" (the boy who wanted a second helping), had a pair of two-run homers at Seibu Dome off Giants starter Seth Greisinger to back the four-hit, complete-game pitching of right-hander Kishi.

Kishi (1-0) threw 147 pitches over nine innings as he silenced the Giants' bats. He struck out 10, including Lee Seung Yeop three times and reigning Central League MVP Michihiro Ogasawara twice, while walking just one.

"I enjoyed pitching in the (Pacific League) Climax Series, but this was even better," said an emotional Kishi, who was 12-4 this season and was making his Japan Series debut. "I was pretty nervous at first, but got more comfortable toward the middle of the game after Nakamura hit those two homers."

Greisinger, a 17-game winner in his first season with the Giants, gave up a leadoff single to Yasuyuki Kataoka in the first inning. Kataoka stole second and scored on a Takumi Kuriyama RBI double down the right-field line to open the scoring.

Greisinger settled down after that, setting the side down in order over the next two innings, but there would be a few fireworks in the bottom of the fourth.

Greisinger got ahead in the count on the dangerous Hiroyuki Nakajima, but on a 1-2 pitch he came up and in and hit the Lions' shortstop on the left arm. Nakajima glared at Greisinger and the two started jawing as he made his way to first base. This didn't sit well with Greisinger, a former major-leaguer, who took a few steps toward Nakajima, returning fire verbally.

As a few more pleasantries were exchanged, the benches emptied and players from both clubs milled around the infield for a few minutes. Order was eventually restored with cooler heads prevailing, but the Lions would have the final say in the matter.

With Nakajima standing on first base, the next batter, Nakamura, slammed a towering two-run homer down the line that stayed just fair of the left-field foul pole.

Nakajima and Nakamura would team up again to add to Greisinger's misery in the sixth. Nakajima led off with a single and the stocky 102-kilogram Nakamura--who led the Pacific loop with 46 home runs this season--smoked a Greisinger fastball into the seats in left once again to give the Leos a 5-0 lead.

"From the start of the series I've been looking to hit inside pitches and that's what I got the first time," said Nakamura. "On the second homer, I just wanted to avoid hitting into a double play."

Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara had seen enough and brought in reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi. Greisinger (0-1) went five-plus innings, giving up five runs on six hits--including two home runs--with two strikeouts. He did not issue a walk but he hit one batter.


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