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Giant footsteps / Yomiuri knocks off Hanshin, creeps to within 7 games of CL front-running Tigers

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Giant footsteps / Yomiuri knocks off Hanshin, creeps to within 7 games of CL front-running Tigers

by Jim Allen (Aug 13, 2008)

The Yomiuri Giants were happy to give their stumbling rivals a push on Tuesday.

Michihiro Ogasawara hit a two-run, first-inning home run and the Yomiuri Giants broke up a pitchers' duel in the seventh inning to beat the league leaders 7-0 and hand the Tigers their fifth straight loss.

Ogasawara went after the first pitch he saw from Yuya Ando, a two-seamer away, and knocked it over the fence.

"I was expecting that pitch and I was determined to jump on it," Ogasawara said of his opposite- field homer that put the Giants in the driver's seat. "That's the pitch I intended to hit, and I got it out, so I'm pretty satisfied with that."

Seth Greisinger (12-6) allowed six hits over 6-2/3 innings to win his sixth straight start as the second-place Giants trimmed the Tigers' lead to seven games.

"I was more anxious than nervous," Greisinger said of facing the league leaders. "Every day I look at how many games behind we are. Anytime you beat Hanshin, it's a big win. Hopefully, we can do it again tomorrow."

Greisinger struck out three and walked four, matching his Japan high for one game. He also walked four in a game last year on Aug. 23 against the Tigers at Jingu Stadium.

Although his fastball was not up to spec, Greisinger got the help he needed from Kazunari Tsuruoka, who is filling in for absent catcher Shinnosuke Abe. The Giants captain is one of six players--three on each team--away on Olympic duty in Beijing.

Greisinger, a veteran of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, outdueled Tigers right-hander Ando (10-6), who had won his previous three starts. Ando, who was with Japan in Athens in 2004, allowed two runs on six hits in 5-2/3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.

Ando helped put his club behind in the first by walking Athens teammate Takuya Kimura. Ogasawara, another Athens veteran, then drove a tough first pitch into the seats. Ando's two-seamer away hung a bit, and Ogasawara jolted it.

The Giants then loaded the bases with two outs, but the right-hander struck out No. 8 hitter Hayato Sakamoto to end the inning.

But that was the Giants' last chance against Ando, who allowed just two more runners to reach.

Kimura made it 4-0 in the seventh with a two-run double off lefty Hirotaka Egusa. Right-hander Ryo Watanabe opened the inning by walking the leadoff man. A second batter reached on a fielder's choice and the wheels were in motion, when Egusa came on with two out and two in scoring position.

Ogasawara followed Kimura's double with an infield single and Alex Ramirez sealed it with a three-run homer, his 31st long-distance call of the year.

Although Greisinger allowed a runner to reach in every inning, he faced no danger until Kentaro Sekimoto's two-out, fourth-inning single put runners on first and second. Greisinger, however, got out of the inning by fielding a grounder near the line and beating Tigers catcher Toshihiro Noguchi to the bag for the third out.

In the sixth, a pair of no-out scratch singles and a sacrifice put Greisinger's feet to the fire. Sekimoto, who had driven in 15 runs in the Tigers' last 10 games, struck out swinging on a changeup out of the zone. With a chance to tie it, Noguchi lined a 1-0 changeup, but a solid running catch by center fielder Takahiro Suzuki ended the inning.

Greisinger left two-thirds of the way through the seventh after walking his second batter of the inning, but lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi retired left-handed-hitting cleanup man Tomoaki Kanemoto. Yamaguchi then got down a two-strike sacrifice bunt that helped the Giants break the game open in the bottom of the inning. The reliever had struck out in his previous two career plate appearances.

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