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John E. Gibson

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Dragons on verge of sweeping Giants

by John E. Gibson (Oct 21, 2010)

The Yomiuri Giants can't stand the heat the Chunichi Dragons are generating at Nagoya Dome.

Kazuki Yoshimi worked 7-1/3 scoreless innings, and the Central League-winning Dragons burned the Giants 2-0 in front of 37,298, beating Yomiuri here for the 11th straight time.

Yoshimi scattered five hits, a walk and a hit batter, while fanning six to keep the Giants scoreless in the best-of-seven CL Climax Series second stage, in which Chunichi began with a one-win lead and is now up 3-0.

The right-hander also knocked in the only run he would need with an RBI single in the second inning to help put Chunichi on the verge of its fourth Japanese Series appearance since 2004.

"I tried not to think too much and just put my heart and soul into my pitches," Yoshimi said.

"I didn't feel great out there. But in a game like this, it's not about how you feel, it's about winning," said Yoshimi, who added his hit was nothing but luck.

"I wasn't thinking about anything. I just wanted to swing at whatever came, and the ball hit the bat. After that, I was just glad it got through."

Akifumi Takahashi worked out of a one-on, one-out jam in the eighth, and retired a batter in the ninth before giving way to Takuya Asao, who recorded his first CLCS save.

The Giants couldn't do much with Yoshimi, getting just five hits off him, with Ryota Wakiya collecting three.

Chunichi can seal a matchup with the Pacific League's Chiba Lotte Marines in the Series with a win or a tie on Friday night.

"We want to try and wrap it up as soon as possible," Asao said.

The Dragons got on the board in the second inning off Yomiuri loser Tetsuya Utsumi, who allowed two runs over six innings.

Atsushi Fujii worked a one-out walk and Motonobu Tanishige dropped a looper into right-center field for a single. With two down, Yoshimi pushed a single through the middle and the Dragons had a 1-0 lead.

They added another run in the third, but could've had more. Hidenori Kuramoto reached on an infield single and Masahiko Morino's looper landed in front of Hisayoshi Chono for a single.

Utsumi plunked Kazuhiro Wada to load the bases with none out, but he kept Tony Blanco's drive to left in the park for a sac fly and got a double play to hold the Dragons to a run and a 2-0 lead.

Utsumi settled down and retired eight straight over one stretch.

The Giants put four runners on base over the first three innings, but couldn't come up with an RBI hit.

Yoshimi found his rhythm and set down 13 straight from the third to the seventh innings. Yoshinobu Takahashi ended that run with a double, Yomiuri's first extra-base hit after 11 singles.

Yoshimi hit Chono to put two on with one out and the Dragons failed to convert Shigeyuki Furuki's tapper back to the mound into a double play.

They got the lead runner, but Masahiro Araki's throw to first was high, allowing Furuki to reach. Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara lifted Utsumi for pinch-hitter Kenji Yano, who grounded out hard to third to end the inning.

Wakiya got the eighth inning off to a strong start for the Giants. He doubled to the gap in left center, but Yoshimi fanned Yoshiyuki Kamei before departing.

Takahashi got Michihiro Ogasawara to ground out, bringing up Alex Ramirez with a runner on third. But the Giants cleanup man fanned on a forkball in the dirt.


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