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Abe, Giants run past BayStars

by Jim Allen (Aug 21, 2009)

Shinnosuke Abe did just enough in the No. 3 spot to help the Giants to their third straight victory.

Abe, subbing again in the heart of the order for regular three-hole hitter Michihiro Ogasawara, hit a tie-breaking, fifth-inning homer in Yomiuri's 4-3 win over the Yokohama BayStars at Tokyo Dome on Thursday.

Ogasawara, who is nursing a leg injury, got the night off against lefty Les Walrond, and Abe batted in his spot for the third time in five games.

The Giants captain grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third. But after Takuya Kimura's sacrifice fly tied it 3-3 in the top of the fifth, Abe took Walrond deep for his 17th home run.

"In the at-bat before the home run, I failed, so the next time up, I went all out," Abe said. "[Batting third] gives you so much respect for what Ogasawara does."

The BayStars had jumped out to an early lead against Yuya Kubo, who had not pitched since interleague and was making his first start of the season. Kubo allowed three runs in 4-2/3 innings, but was pulled after allowing three straight hits in the fifth.

"He was a little rusty," Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. "But he pitched well in difficult circumstances. But in that situation, we have good relievers and I was going to use them."

Soichi Fujita (1-0) came on to retire Dan Johnson, who had homered in the second. The southpaw got all four batters he faced and earned the win after the Giants took the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Trailing by a run, Hayato Sakamoto opened the fifth with a triple to right center. Kimura, who went 3-for-3 and stole a base, hit a fly to deep center to tie it.

Abe then fouled off a pair of 2-2 pitches before getting a slider down the middle of the plate that he drilled into the stands.

"It's been a while since we've played this well," said acting BayStars manager Tomio Tashiro. "Walrond was OK. But he kept falling behind. I would prefer our pitchers to be just a little more aggressive."

Walrond (5-9) allowed four runs, three earned, in six innings. He surrendered eight hits and issued a pair of walks, but struck out four and got a pair of big double plays.

Yokohama's relievers kept the game close, but Fujita's entry stemmed the BayStars' tide and the visitors didn't get another man on. Daisuke Ochi pitched the seventh, Tetsuya Yamaguchi the eighth and Marc Kroon the ninth for a rare trouble-free save.

"Ideally, I want our starting pitcher to throw a complete game," Hara said. "But Kubo made good pitches and was in good form."

The BayStars, however, took a two-run lead in the third on back-to-back singles by the last two men in the order and a two-out RBI single by Seiichi Uchikawa. The Central League batting leader went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .323.

Sakamoto put the Giants on the board in the third when he singled with one out and stole second on the next pitch. He went to third on Kimura's hard single to center and scored when center fielder Tatsuya Shimozono failed to pick the ball up.

Kimura, who improved to 7-for-11 against Walrond this season, said he was happiest about his stolen base the first of Yomiuri's three.

"Chunichi ran at will against us recently, and the Giants did tonight," Tashiro said. "We've worked on quick motions to the plate since the spring, but as long as this is going on, we're not going anywhere."


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