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Rob Smaal

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Giants triumph in tater-paloozza

by Rob Smaal (May 17, 2010)

It's 301 and counting for Rami.

A day after belting his 300th career home run in Japanese baseball, Alex Ramirez had one of the Yomiuri Giants' five homers on Sunday afternoon as they powered past the Chiba Lotte Marines 10-8 in an interleague matchup at Tokyo Dome.

Shinnosuke Abe, Michihiro Ogasawara, Yoshinobu Takahashi and Hayato Sakamoto also went yard for Yomiuri.

Kim Tae-kyun smacked a pair of two-run homers for the Marines, his 11th and 12th of the season, while Toshiaki Imae and Tsuyoshi Nishioka also homered for Lotte as Japan's version of the Homer Dome more than lived up to its reputation in yielding nine longballs on the day.

Right-hander Kentaro Nishimura (3-1) benefitted from the Giants' offensive outburst. Nishimura allowed four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks over a workman-like six innings to earn the win.

The Giants looked like they would cruise to their Central League-best 27th victory of the season, but with balls flying out of the park literally left, right and center, this one ended up going down to the wire.

With Yomiuri enjoying a 10-4 lead going into the ninth, Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara brought in lefty Norihito Kaneto to nail down the win. But after giving up two-run homers to Nishioka and Kim, closer Marc Kroon entered the game to get the final two outs. Kroon gave up a bloop single to Shoitsu Omatsu but then got pinch-hitter Kazuya Fukuura on a groundout to first and struck out Imae swinging to end it, picking up his seventh save of the season in the process.

"It was good that we hit a lot of home runs today," said Ogasawara, who scored four times after going 2-for-2 with three walks. "Not only me, but our whole team showed good power today and that's ultimately what won the game for us."

Abe got the party started early for the Kyojin. He crushed a three-run homer to right in the bottom of the first off Marines starter Yuta Omine. Homer Dome or not, no ballpark would have contained this shot as it soared high above the advertising banners that adorn the Tokyo Dome wall above the right-field bleachers.

Ogasawara hammered a solo job, his 12th of 2010 and the 349th of his career, off Omine to lead off the home half of the third, while Ramirez and Takahashi both cranked out two-run shots in the fifth off reliever Kodai Matsumoto.

Sakamoto nailed a solo bomb in the sixth off another Marines reliever, Takuya Furuya, who later in the inning walked in the 10th run with the bases loaded.

Sakamoto was 4-for-5 at the plate with a home run, a double and two singles.

"I'm not trying to hit home runs," said Sakamoto, who has four homers in the past three games. "That's not my job as a leadoff hitter, but I've been getting some good pitches to hit and I was able to drive one out again today. I'm seeing the ball well and feeling good at the plate."

Ramirez's homer was the 14th of the season for the reigning two-time CL MVP, tying him with Hanshin's Craig Brazell for the league lead. Ramirez, a Venezuelan veteran in his 10th year in NPB, currently ranks third on the career home run list for foreign players behind Tuffy Rhodes (464) and Orix Buffaloes slugger Alex Cabrera (331).

Omine (2-3) allowed four runs on five hits and three walks through three frames in taking the loss. Matsumoto also gave up four runs in two innings of relief.


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