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Tani blasts Giants over Dragons

by Jim Allen (Sep 22, 2009)

Yoshitomo Tani picked a good spot to get hot.

Tani homered twice and reached base four times on Monday as the Yomiuri Giants came from behind to beat the Chunichi Dragons 5-3 and reduce their magic number to three to clinch a third straight Central League pennant.

"Certainly, I've been swinging the bat better than I have been all season," said Tani, who twice went deep to the opposite field off lefty Masahiro Yamamoto (1-3).

"The biggest thing for me was reducing our magic number."

It was the second time in his 13-year career Tani had homered in consecutive at-bats. He first did it with Orix in 2003, when he had a career-high 21 homers.

Tani, who started the season coming off the bench and has just 250 at-bats, has 10 homers and four since Sept. 15.

Shun Tono (8-7) allowed three runs in seven innings, winning for the first time in four starts.

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said Tono made him anxious with back-to-back walks to open the fourth inning.

"I'm sure he himself knows he messed up with the walks," Hara said. "But he picked up the slack.

"We made some mistakes today, but the guys have been covering for each other all year. Today was the same.

"Tani picked us up. The way we've been playing, first one guy then another carries the load. It makes our batting order seem very deep."

Lee Byung Kyu hit a solo homer in the second inning for Chunichi, but Tani answered with a two-run shot in the bottom half. The Dragons tied it in the third after Tono walked the first two batters, but Alex Ramirez restored Yomiuri's lead with a two-run shot in the home half.

Tani homered to lead off the fourth to make it 5-2.

Ramirez opened the door for the Dragons to narrow the gap in the seventh, when he missed a sliding catch on the leadoff man. Ryosuke Hirata sped to third when the ball rolled to the wall and scored on a sacrifice fly by veteran pinch-hitter Kazuyoshi Tatsunami.

Lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi pitched out of trouble in a scoreless eighth, and Marc Kroon worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 26th save.

The Giants can clinch the pennant in this series with a win and at least a tie.


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