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Rob Smaal

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Abe wins it for Giants in walk-off

by Rob Smaal (Nov 6, 2009)

Yoshiyuki Kamei drilled a game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night and Shinnosuke Abe followed up by cranking out the game-winning blast two batters later as the Yomiuri Giants scored a dramatic 3-2 walk-off win over the Nippon-Ham Fighters at Tokyo Dome to take a 3-2 Japan Series lead back up to Sapporo.

The two ninth-inning homers came off Fighters closer Hisashi Takeda, who led the Pacific League with 34 saves this season. Kamei went yard on Takeda's first offering of the evening and, after Yoshitomo Tani flied out, Abe slammed one into the same stands in right to set off wild celebrations by the Giants fans.

"Unbelievable," said Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara. "This one went right down to the wire. Kamei got us back even then Abe put it away for us."

"I really felt the energy after Kamei's home run," said Abe. "There's no doubt now that we'll bring home the championship."

What started out as a good, old-fashioned pitchers' duel ended in a flurry of activity. Giants right-hander Dicky Gonzalez and Fighters lefty Shugo Fujii each went seven quality innings without allowing an earned run, but neither man would figure in the decision.

In the top half of the ninth inning, Fighters' Game 4 hero Shinji Takahashi looked like he might have come through with the game-winning home run for his club. Takahashi's tiebreaking solo shot off Tetsuya Yamaguchi gave the Hammies a 2-1 lead--a lead that turned out to be temporary.

After leaving a runner stranded at third in the opening inning, the Fighters got on the board in the top of the second. Terrmel Sledge led off the inning with a routine groundball to second that Shigeyuki Furuki couldn't handle, getting charged with an error on the play.

Eiichi Koyano then singled off Gonzalez and Tomohiro Nioka grounded into a 6-4 fielder's choice to leave runners on the corners.

Gonzalez whiffed Nippon-Ham catcher Shota Ono for the second out of the inning, bringing up Fighters pitcher Shugo Fujii. The left-handed hitting Fujii sliced a groundball toward third base that Michihiro Ogasawara made a complete mess of, allowing Sledge to touch home with the game's opening run.

The game remained a 1-0 affair until the bottom of the eighth inning. With one out and a runner at third, veteran pinch-hitter Noriyoshi Omichi came through when he lined an RBI single over a drawn-in infield to tie the game.

That set the stage for the fireworks in the ninth.

Yamaguchi got credit for the win with two innings of one-hit relief.


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