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John E. Gibson

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Buffaloes get tough in Tokyo

by John E. Gibson (May 23, 2011)

The Orix Buffaloes looked a lot like sitting ducks in the ninth inning on Sunday at Tokyo Dome.

The Giants had tied the score with the winning run on third with one out. But Mamoru Kishida (2-1), who had just blown the save opportunity, fanned the next two to escape the jam and the Buffaloes rallied for three runs in the 10th inning to win 4-1 and avoid a second straight come-from-ahead loss.

Koji Yamasaki, who came on as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning, bounced an RBI infield single to short that ended up scoring two runs as the Buffaloes recovered to hand the Giants a loss before 43,554.

So Taguchi, who turns 42 in July, raced home from second on Yamasaki's infield hit deep to the hole between shortstop and second base, to make the score 3-1.

"I had a feeling he would score," a still-smiling Akinobu Okada said about Taguchi. But the skipper had mixed feelings about the way the Buffaloes blew the lead before the thrilling three-run rally.

Kishida was ahead 0-2 in the count against Alex Ramirez leading off the ninth, but got a waste pitch too close to the plate that the Yomiuri cleanup man smacked into center for a single.

Kishida was responsible for Saturday's loss, allowing a ninth-inning solo homer to Yoshiyuki Ishihara as the Hiroshima Carp rallied for a 3-2 victory.

"Kishida tried to rush things and get the out too quickly," Okada said. "These relievers are just throwing an inning, so they have to take their time and get each batter. Kishida, who was just coming off yesterday's game, was probably thinking, 'Oh, no,' after he did that.

"And the way things were going, you normally go on and lose the game in that situation," Okada said about the one-out, first-and-third pinch that resulted. "We did well to get out of that."

Kishida pitched out of that jam but Levi Romero (0-2) didn't escape his in the 10th.

Tomotaka Sakaguchi led off the 10th by rolling a ball up the third base line that might have gone foul had Hidetoshi Tsuburaya let it go, but the third baseman grabbed it and threw too late to get Sakaguchi at first.

Yamasaki came up with runners on second and third and hit a forkball for a bouncer Yomiuri's Hayato Sakamoto could barely get to. The shortstop whirled around and fired home, but Taguchi slid in under the tag for the third run.

"I hit it well, so I just thought, 'Get through,'" said Yamasaki, who was in the No. 5 hole with slugger Takahiro Okada behind him and batting out of the cleanup spot for the first time this season.

"I thought for a second about just trying to get on base, but then I decided I needed to be aggressive and look for something hard to hit."

The Buffaloes, who had the best record in interleague play last season, have just 12 wins overall.

Park Chan Ho, who was shipped down to the farm after his May 11 start, made a strong return to the first team. The South Korean righty, who worked on his form while on the farm, held Yomiuri scoreless on three hits, while walking two, hitting a batter and fanning just one.

He was lifted in seventh inning for a pinch-hitter.

Yomiuri starter Seth Greisinger had his best outing since July 11, 2009, when he didn't allow an earned run over eight innings against the Hanshin Tigers.

He allowed a run over seven innings, allowing four hits, four walks and hitting a batter, while fanning five.

At Koshien Stadium, former Tiger Hiroshi Hirao's 10th-inning single broke a tie and the Saitama Seibu Lions got past Hanshin 2-1 as the Tigers hit into five double plays and lost their fourth straight.

The Tigers ended their scoreless inning drought at 38 when Takashi Toritani came home from third during a rundown play, but that was their only run.

The host Yokohama BayStars and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham were rained out after 3-1/2 innings.


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