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Giants slay Dragons

by John E. Gibson (Jul 30, 2009)

Chunichi's season-best nine-game winning streak went up in smoke in a hurry on Wednesday.

Shigeyuki Furuki socked a three-run homer that capped a six-run, first-inning outburst and Dicky Gonzalez cooled off the Dragons' bats with a season-high 10 strikeouts and gave up just three hits as the Yomiuri Giants cruised 11-1 in front of 42,880 at Tokyo Dome.

The Central League-leading Giants used the big first inning and four homers to douse second-place Chunichi's longest winning streak in four years and push the Dragons 2-1/2 games behind them in the standings.

"It has been a while," Yomiuri skipper Tatsunori Hara said of his team's double-digit scoring effort. "The six runs in the first inning really got things going in our favor. The frustration of last night [a 5-3 loss on Tuesday] was clear in the way our team played tonight."

Cleanup man Alex Ramirez and No. 5 hitter Yoshiyuki Kamei each had a double and a homer, and No. 3 man Michihiro Ogasawara chipped in with a late two-run bomb, his team-high 24th.

"It was very important for us to win. Those guys were a game and a half behind us and they're playing very good right now," said Ramirez, who blasted a two-run shot, his 14th, in the fifth inning after an RBI double in the first.

"For us to come in and beat them was huge. And I always say that after a winning streak comes a losing streak. So hopefully, they can have a losing streak and we can have a winning streak."

Gonzalez (9-1), an offseason pickup who was let go by the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, rolled through the Chunichi lineup, yielding a run on a solo homer to match his career high with nine wins.

The sixth-year right-hander, 9-7 with the Swallows in 2006, walked two but retired his last 10 batters. He said the big cushion allowed him to work the corners.

"It was easier [pitching with the lead] because you have more chances to throw strikes," Gonzalez said. "It's easier when you have six or seven runs, so I started working the corners and making those guys swing.

"Then they started to take more pitches, so when I came to the corners they froze because they didn't know what I was going to throw."

The Giants hit just about everything Chunichi starter Kenta Asakura (7-5) threw in the first inning. The two-time reigning CL champs sent nine men to the plate, stringing together five straight hits along the way.

"It's very easy to figure what happened today," was all Chunichi skipper Hiromitsu Ochiai had to say.

Ramirez got the Giants going with an RBI double in the first. He drove a 1-0 pitch that one-hopped the wall in center to plate Tetsuya Matsumoto for a 1-0 lead. Kamei followed with a double inside third and down the line to chase home Ramirez and make it 2-0.

Lee Seung Yeop followed with an RBI single and, after Shinnosuke Abe's base hit, came home on Furuki's homer to deep right, the team's CL-best 100th longball this season.

"It was a good hitter's count so I raised my eye level, looked for something up in the zone and tried to put a really good swing on it," Furuki said of his second homer this season.

"The Dragons have a lot of momentum going, but we had to do something to stop them--we couldn't afford to lose back-to-back games to them."

Asakura hung in for four innings after getting rocked in the first, surrendering six runs on six hits, a walk and a hit batter, while fanning two.


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