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John E. Gibson

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Giants bounce back against BayStars bullpen

by John E. Gibson (May 8, 2009)

A fresh battery seemed to charge up the Yokohama BayStars, but the Giants put on an overwhelming power display late on Thursday night at Tokyo Dome.

Michihiro Ogasawara hit a towering three-run, go-ahead home run in the eighth inning--the first of three in the frame--and the Giants rallied to spoil Yokohama rookie Hitoshi Fujie's pro debut with a comeback 7-3 victory before 40,139.

Fujie and rookie catcher Takeshi Hosoyamada worked together to limit the Giants to a run over 6-2/3 innings, and the 23-year-old pitcher was in line to pick up his first win when Ogasawara struck off closer Shun Yamaguchi (2-1), whom Yokohama skipper Akihiko Oya had thrown into a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth.

Lee Seung Yeop followed later with his second homer of the game, a colossal two-run shot that looked headed for South Korea until it clanged off the back wall, and Shinnosuke Abe joined bash by slugging a solo shot--his fourth of the season--to make it a six-run inning with three longballs.

"It took a while to get the engine going, but that eighth inning was obviously the key to the game," said Yomiuri skipper Tatsunori Hara.

Ogasawara reached the 3,000 plateau in total bases with the homer, his seventh of the season.

"I hadn't been doing well recently, so I really wanted to come through in that situation," Ogasawara said. "The guys in front of me did a good job of setting up that chance and I'm just glad I was able to produce."

Lee's seventh-inning homer got out in a hurry, but didn't have much lift to it. "I thought it was going to hit the wall. I was surprised it carried over the fence for me," Lee said of the shot.

The dome seemed to barely contain the eighth-inning blast.

"I just know it hit the sign on the back wall. I'm happy I could get us some more runs, but it was Ogasawara's homer that got us the game."

Fujie, who pitched with the Nomo Baseball Club and Toho Gas of the industrial league, featured breaking pitches to hold the back-to-back CL champion Giants to a run on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts. He left after allowing Lee's line-drive solo homer to right.

The BayStars had to focus on the bright side.

"Fujie was outstanding," said a dejected Oya. "There's not much we can do if we lose with Yamaguchi. If we just could have gotten through that eighth inning...."

The Giants won despite blowing a golden opportunity to get even. Down 2-0 in the sixth, CL top batter Hayato Sakamoto lined a shot to the gap in right center to put runners on second and third with no outs.

But Hara put on a squeeze with Tetsuya Matsumoto, whose bunt was too close to home plate. Hosoyamada grabbed the dribbler, tagged a hard-charging Satoshi Fukuda and fired to first to complete the rare double suicide.


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