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Rob Smaal

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Giants swing heavy timber to rally in 8th

by Rob Smaal (May 8, 2009)

Michihiro Ogasawara, Lee Seung Yeop and Shinnosuke Abe all broke out the big sticks in a six-run eighth inning Thursday night at Tokyo Dome to bust open a tight game and give the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants a 7-3 win over the last-place Yokohama BayStars.

The Giants, who trailed 3-1 entering the fateful eighth, got a three-run home run from Ogasawara, a two-run shot from Lee--his second of the night--and a solo tater from Abe. All three went yard off Yokohama reliever Shun Yamaguchi (2-1), who was charged with four runs on four hits in one-third of an inning.

Kentaro Nishimura (2-0) worked 1 2/3 innings of one-hit scoreless relief to pick up the win for the Giants, who improved to a league-best 18-9-2 on the season.

Lee absolutely crushed his second homer of the night. The ball traveled an estimated 145 meters and hit a real estate company advertising billboard above the right-field bleachers, earning him a 1 million yen bonus.

"I saw it hit the sign and I knew I'd be getting the cash so I'm looking forward to that," said Lee, who now has six home runs this season. "I'm happy I could add to the lead, but Ogasawara's home run was the one that won the game for us."

The result spoiled a solid effort from BayStars starter Hitoshi Fujie, who was making his professional debut. The 23-year-old rookie, a product of the Nomo Baseball Club in Osaka Prefecture, allowed just one run on six hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter.

Fujie got some run support in the form of two solo jacks, by Seiichi Uchikawa in the fourth inning and Dan Johnson an inning later, both off Giants starter Satoshi Fukuda. It was the fifth home run of the year for each man. Unfortunately for Fujie, it was a lead the BayStars bullpen would be unable to preserve.

In the top of the seventh inning, Fukuda walked Uchikawa and Shuichi Murata to lead off the inning and Yuuki Yoshimura beat out an infield RBI single off reliever Nishimura to give the BayStars a 3-0 lead. The run was charged to Fukuda.

Lee lined a solo homer to right off Fujie to make it 3-1 in the seventh, and that was all for the rookie. Fujie was relieved by veteran lefty Kimiyasu Kudo, at the age of 46 a man literally twice his age.

"We revved up our stalled engine in the eighth inning," said Giants manager Tatsunori Hara. "That was obviously the difference in the game."

The BayStars took the series opener 6-4 on Tuesday before the Giants scored a dramatic 3-2 win Wednesday evening on a walk-off home run by Sakamoto in the bottom of the ninth.

Next up for the BayStars is a three-game set against the Hanshin Tigers starting today in Yokohama. The Giants host the Chunichi Dragons for three games, before heading down to Yokohama on Tuesday to renew hostilities with the BayStars.

Elsewhere in the CL, the Yakult Swallows edged the Hanshin Tigers 2-1 at Jingu Stadium on Aaron Guiel's game-winning, one-run double in the sixth inning. At Nagoya Dome the Chunichi Dragons defeated the Hiroshima Carp 4-3.

There were no Pacific Leagues games scheduled for Thursday.


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