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Rob Smaal

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Giants survive late-charging Lions

by Rob Smaal and Kim Han Il (Jun 17, 2009)

The first time the Giants manager Tatsunori Hara let him swing the bat, Takuya Kimura nailed a three-run homer Tuesday night as Yomiuri got a little Japan Series revenge with a 7-6 win over the Seibu Lions in Utsunomiya.

Kimura, who had successfully bunted runners over his first two trips to the plate, cranked a three-run shot off Seibu starter Kaz Ishii, and Michihiro Ogasawara followed up with a solo shot in a five-run fourth for the Giants.

Kimura also made a key defensive play, making a diving stop on a groundball with a runner on second for the third out in the eighth after the Lions had put three runs on the board in the inning to make it a one-run game.

Ogasawara's long ball, his 14th of the season, spelled the end of the night for veteran lefty Ishii, who was probably relieved to get out of a steady rain. Ishii (3-5) allowed six runs on seven hits--including two home runs--over 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four, walked a pair and hit one batter with a pitch.

Reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi got the win, improving to 5-0 on the season. Giants starter Hisanori Takahashi was not sharp. The lefty gave up three runs on 10 hits in four innings.

Kiyoshi Toyoda worked the ninth to earn his second save of the season. He gave up a single to slugger Takeya Nakamura but struck out pinch-hitter Hiram Bocachica to end it.

The Giants opened the scoring in the home half of the third when pitcher Takahashi led off with a single to center, eventually coming home on a sharp groundball to first that went in the books as an RBI single for Alex Ramirez.

However, Yasuyuki Kataoka lined a two-run homer that just hooked fair around the foul pole in left off Takahashi in the fourth and Hiroyuki Nakajima punched an RBI single through the right side of the infield later in the inning to put the defending Japan Series champions up 3-1.

The Giants had their breakout inning in the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by Yoshitomo Tani and Kazunari Tsuruoka to open the inning got one run back. After Hayato Sakamoto drew a two-out walk, the light-hitting Kimura turned on an Ishii delivery for his second home run of the year, turning a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead.

Home runs by Ogasawara and another solo shot by Sakamoto, off rookie reliever Ryoma Nogami in the sixth, made it 7-3 for the Giants, but a comfortable lead would get tenuous in a hurry in the eighth.

A throwing error by third baseman Shigeyuki Furuki opened the door for a couple of Seibu runs in the eighth. Pinch-hitter Yutaro Osaki doubled in a run off Daisuke Ochi and another pinch-hitter, Yoshihito Ishii, then singled in another run off the Yomiuri reliever. Kataoka then capped off a three-ribbie night with an RBI double to straightaway center field off Ochi. It could have been worse, had Kimura not come up with his big play on defense.

Takumi Kuriyama was 3-for-5 on the night for Seibu with three singles.


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