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Kanemoto's HR in 10th helps Hanshin halt skid at 5

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Kanemoto's HR in 10th helps Hanshin halt skid at 5

by Jim Allen (Aug 14, 2008)

With Hanshin still two weeks away from its next game at Koshien Stadium, Tomoaki Kanemoto put some life into the club's annual road trip of death.

Kanemoto's three-run homer snapped a 10th-inning tie on Wednesday as the league leaders salvaged a split of their Tokyo Dome series with a 4-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants.

The Tigers' win snapped a season-worst, five-game losing streak.

With the game tied 1-1, Kanemoto homered off Soichi Fujita after Giants closer Marc Kroon (1-3) opened the inning with two walks.

"It was all emotion up there and it felt real good," Kanemoto said. "My goal was to hit one real hard to right. In the worst case, we'd have runners on the corners."

An overachiever throughout his career, the 40-year-old cleanup hitter once more exceeded expectations, clearing the fences with his 19th home run of the year.

"This was a great team effort, with everyone chipping in. One of those games where anyone could have been the hero," Kanemoto said.

Tigers lefty Jeff Williams worked the 10th in relief of Scott Atchison (6-4), who had allowed just one runner to reach in two scoreless innings.

Williams allowed a leadoff homer to Tomohiro Nioka in the the 10th but hung on to record his second save of the season.

Minoru Iwata gave the Tigers seven solid innings, dueling fellow southpaw Tetsuya Utsumi to a draw before handing the ball over to Atchison--who tripped on his way to the mound before 46,058, the Dome's largest crowd of the season.

"I've fallen on the mound before but not before so many people," Atchison said. "But I've never fallen running to the mound."

Despite the inauspicious entrance, Atchison was a force on the mound, working a 1-2-3 eighth. He walked two-time MVP Michihiro Ogasawara to lead off the ninth, but got out of the inning with the help of two strikeouts.

"Ogasawara hit me hard before so I pitched carefully to him," Atchison said. "But you can't pitch too carefully. I made some good pitches but he laid off of some of them and had a good at-bat."

After getting Alex Ramirez looking at a third strike on the outside corner, Atchison fell behind 3-2 to Yoshitomo Tani, who struck out swinging as Ogasawara was caught stealing to end the inning.

"I was able to get some sliders past him [Tani]," Atchison said. "They weren't the best sliders, but....

"It didn't matter how we won, as long as we won."

The Giants, who had scored in the first before Iwata found some superb rhythm, got back on the board through Nioka, whose fourth-inning miscue led to the Tigers' first run.

Nioka's drive off Williams just cleared the wall in right for his first home run of the year.

"It's Tokyo Dome, so you have to expect that," Williams said. "But with a three-run lead, you have to go after hitters and throw strikes."

The lefty retired the next three men he faced to push the second-place Giants eight games back in the Central League pennant race.

Until the climactic finish, however, the game had been dominated by the starting pitchers.

Utsumi, who gave up just three hits and a walk, allowed the Tigers just one chance--created when Nioka's two-base throwing error put speedster Norihiro Akahoshi on third with no outs in the fourth.

The Giants put just two men in scoring position in seven innings against Iwata, who allowed four hits and three walks but also got Ramirez to ground into a pair of double plays.

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