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Do the hustle / Ramirez's effort sparks 4-run 7th, lifts Giants over Lions in Game 5 for 3-2 Series

by Jim Allen (Nov 7, 2008)

TOKOROZAWA, Saitama--It took 15 innings, a lucky hop and plenty of hustle but the Giants finally got to Hideaki Wakui on Thursday and moved to within one win of the 2008 Japan Series championship.

Alex Ramirez's hustle after a fortunate bounce sparked a four-run Giants rally as Yomiuri came from behind to beat the Saitama Seibu Lions 7-3 in Game 5 at Seibu Dome.

Ryota Wakiya drove in the tie-breaking run with a two-run triple, sending the Series back to Tokyo Dome for Game 6 on Saturday evening with the Central League champs holding a 3-2 lead.

"Saturday is the day," said Ramirez, whose one-out double on a grounder that struck the second base bag inspired the comeback.

"Wakui was pitching great. I was thinking, 'We aren't going to get many chances.' So I was trying to hit a home run in that situation. After I hit the ball on the ground, I thought it was going through. And when I saw the ball hit the bag, I decided to go for it.

"I heard the coach saying, 'No, no, no,' but I thought I could make it."

He beat the throw to second, then just barely scored on Shinnosuke Abe's ground single to right, beating his second straight throw to tie the game 2-2.

"I'm going, 'Oh my goodness, am I going to make it?'" Ramirez said.

Wakui, who held the Giants to an unearned run in his Game 1 victory, held a 2-1 lead in the seventh, but Ramirez and Abe, who had homered to tie it 1-1 in the second, changed the game.

Wakui began to press and the Giants hammered everything he left in the zone. Yoshiyuki Kamei's double sent Abe to third, and both scored on Wakiya's triple.

"I was thinking he was absolutely coming with a fastball," said Wakiya, who drilled a high 2-0 pitch to the gap in left-center.

Hayato Sakamoto, whose third-inning wild throw allowed the Lions to retake the lead, plated Wakiya with a double, the Giants' fifth straight hit.

"My mistake today cost us, and after Kamei and Wakiya had done such a great job hitting I got incredibly motivated," said Sakamoto, who got his second hit of the Series.

Wakui left the mound, but not before the 22-year-old had surrendered five runs on seven hits and a walk. Following a disappointing regular season in which he went 10-11 with a 3.90 ERA, Wakui had gone 3-0 with one earned run in 23 postseason innings.

"I'm glad we don't have to face him again," said Ramirez, who had his bat sawed off in the fourth by a sinker that he hit into an inning-ending double play.

After leveling the Series the night before, Seibu drew first blood for the second straight game.

Three straight no-out singles loaded the bases with Lions, and leadoff man Yasuyuki Kataoka scrambled home with the first run on a one-out grounder to second. But Giants right-hander Koji Uehara, who lost Game 1 to Wakui, ended the inning with a strikeout to limit the damage.

The Giants tied it in the top of the second on Abe's homer just over the fence in dead center field.

Uehara gave up three hits again in the third, but again surrendered just a run. Hiroyuki Nakajima reached on shortstop Sakamoto's one-out, two-base throwing error, and Yoshihito Ishii singled in a run with one out.

Ishii, who was credited with an RBI when he grounded out in the first, improved to 11-for-26 in the postseason with six RBIs.

Back-to-back singles followed, but Uehara struck out Ginjiro Sumitani.

Sumitani, who played in 48 games this season, came on when starting catcher Toru Hosokawa hurt himself sliding awkwardly into first base in the second inning.

Uehara left after three innings, having allowed two runs on seven hits. He didn't walk a batter but struck out four, while stranding six runners.

But while the start was a disappointment, the bullpen gave the Giants a chance for a comeback with five scoreless innings.

Lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi worked 1-2/3 scoreless innings, righty Kentaro Nishimura threw an inning and a third, former Lions reliever Kiyoshi Toyoda worked the seventh and young fireballer Daisuke Ochi stuffed the Lions in the eighth.

"Uehara wasn't as good as he has been recently, but the relievers bailed us out," said Giants manager Tatsunori Hara.

The Lions, already handicapped when Hosokawa left the game, lost shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima when he hurt a rib muscle while batting in the fifth.

Veteran utility man Hiroshi Hirao took over at second as second baseman Kataoka shifted to short. Both made good plays at their new positions, but once the Giants were inspired, there was no stopping them.

Kamei singled to lead off a two-run ninth for the Giants, and Hirao homered in the bottom of the inning off closer Marc Kroon, but Seibu's train had already left the station.


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