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Giants take home run derby

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Giants take home run derby

by Jim Allen (Jul 13, 2008)

With the balls flying out of Tokyo Dome, the power duo at the heart of the Yomiuri Giants lineup proved to be the difference.

Alex Ramirez and Michihiro Ogasawara pounded two home runs apiece on Saturday evening as the Yomiuri Giants denied the pesky Yokohama BayStars 5-4 at Tokyo Dome.

With the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Ogasawara went deep off impressive BayStars setup man Michiomi Yoshihara (0-1).

"I didn't have much information about him," Ogasawara said. "I just wanted to get a fat pitch and hit it hard."

It was the first extra-base hit allowed by the 27-year-old in 21-1/3 career innings.

"Welcome to Tokyo Dome," said Ramirez, who followed Ogasawara's game-tying solo shot in the first inning with one of his own. The pair scored and drove in all of the Giants runs.

With Ogasawara on base with a double in the third inning, Ramirez broke a 2-2 tie with his CL-leading 26th home run.

Giants ace Koji Uehara (2-4), who ended a sixth-inning Yokohama rally, surrendered the tying run in the top of the seventh but earned the win after 1-1/3 innings of relief in the peculiar game.

It took just one pitch for Giants starter Hisanori Takahashi to begin the power ball lottery.

A high slider to Hiroaki Onishi wound up in the left field seats for a 1-0 BayStars lead in a game that wouldn't see a single until the bottom of the fifth inning.

BayStars starter Yuji Yoshimi struck out the first two batters he faced in the first before Ogasawara tied it with his 16th homer of the season.

"It wouldn't do to go 1-2-3, so I wanted to do anything to avoid that," said Ogasawara.

Ramirez followed with his 25th homer, but Yoshimi escaped further trouble in the inning, and former Giant Toshihisa Nishi tied it in the top of the third, off a slider below the knees.

The lead, however, didn't stay tied for long as Ogasawara doubled to open the bottom of the third and scored on Ramirez's second straight homer. He was looking outside and got a pitch that would enable him to hit behind the runner--although he didn't expect it would go out.

"I think we are team of good hitters, but he [Ramirez] brings something special with his ability to read situations and respond to them," said manager Tatsunori Hara.

In a game dominated by extra-base hits, the BayStars closed the gap on singles. Central League batting champ Seiichi Uchikawa led off with a single off Takahashi, who left after getting two outs. Right-hander Daisuke Ochi walked a batter before J.J. Furmaniak grounded one up the middle to plate Uchikawa.

Left-hander Soichi Fujita gave up an infield single to veteran pinch-hitter Takahiro Saeki. With the bases loaded and right-handed-hitting Ryoji Aikawa up as a pinch-hitter, Uehara came on to get the third out.

But the Giants ace put the BayStars back in it by surrendering Shuichi Murata's two-out, RBI triple.

Yoshihara came on to open the inning with his 18th strikeout of the season, but his first appearance against the Giants since his April 1, 2007, pro debut was ruined by Ogasawara.

Kiyoshi Toyoda threw a 1-2-3 eighth to record a hold, while Marc Kroon pitched the ninth to pick up his 22nd save against his former team.

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