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Kimura leads way as Giants hold off Tigers

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Kimura leads way as Giants hold off Tigers

by Jim Allen (Aug 16, 2009)

With the Giants' biggest hitter out, Takuya Kimura came off the bench on Saturday and helped Yomiuri get back in the win column.

Kimura went 4-for-5, scored the game's first run and drove in three more in a wild 9-7 victory over the Hanshin Tigers before 45,630 at Tokyo Dome as the Central League leaders snapped a two-game losing streak.

Missing third baseman Michihiro Ogasawara, who suffered a minor leg injury on Friday, manager Tatsunori Hara started Kimura at second, Shigeyuki Furuki at third, put regular catcher and team captain Shinnosuke Abe at first and batted him in Ogasawara's No. 3 spot.

"Ogasawara has been bailing us out all season, pulling the team," Kimura said. "I am not going to take his place, but I can contribute, even if it's nothing all that special.

"I wasn't concerned about batting second. What I was worried about was not winning with me in the starting lineup."

The Giants had lost the last nine games Kimura had started, but this time it looked like it would be an easy win.

Kimura doubled and scored the game's first run off lefty Kazuya Tsutsui (0-2), and his two-out bloop to right bounced over the right fielder's head for an RBI double that made it 3-0 in the second. Tsutsui hit Abe with a pitch before Alex Ramirez homered to make it 6-0.

In the fourth, a solo homer by Abe and an RBI double by Yoshitomo Tani in the fourth gave Seth Greisinger (10-5) an eight-run lead. Having allowed just two runners at that juncture, he appeared to be cruising, but a pair of errors by shortstop Hayato Sakamoto and four soft singles contributed to a six-run fifth inning for the fifth-place Tigers.

"I think we realized how strong Hanshin really is," Kimura said. "And we just got angry."

Takahito Kudo batted for Greisinger in the bottom of the inning and doubled with one out. He scored on Kimura's two-out single to give the hosts some much-needed breathing room.

"I was really annoyed at the way we gave away so many runs in the top of the inning," Kimura said. "We had a chance to get one back and it would have been a blow to us if we wasted it."

All six runs charged to Greisinger were unearned, and the Tigers added one more off Daisuke Ochi and Tetsuya Yamaguchi in the seventh.

Yamaguchi, who entered with one out and a man on third in the inning, pitched a 1-2-3 eighth before turning it over to closer Marc Kroon, who faced four batters in the ninth to notch his 14th save.

Hara had no answer about when Ogasawara, a two-time MVP who leads the team in a bundle of offensive categories and has the best slugging average in the league, would be back.

"All I can say is that it isn't serious," Hara said.

"We have to be able to pick up the slack for each other. You could say that's what it means to be a team.

"Abe has played first before and batted in the heart of order, and that helped out."

The feel-good story was tested in the fifth when the Tigers slipped through the cracks to make a game of it.

After a leadoff single, Sakamoto fumbled a ball at short that should have been the first out of the inning.

With one out, Abe fielded a hard grounder at first and fired to second, where Sakamoto flubbed the catch and a run scored.

After a single loaded the bases, Sakamoto caught a pop in shallow center for the second out as center fielder Yoshiyuki Kamei tumbled out of the way to avoid a collision. Takashi Toritani's little fly to left fell in to plate two runs, and Kanemoto's second straight double drove in another. Takahiro Arai's bloop hit, the Tigers' fourth Texas leaguer of the inning, completed the rally.

The Tigers scored another in the seventh as Keiichi Hirano tripled with one out off Ochi and came home when Kanemoto doubled for the third straight at-bat, this time off Yamaguchi.

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