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Friday, Nov. 3, 2006

Unheralded Giants big in tie


Staff writer

Meeting the Yomiuri Giants wasn't much fun for the San Diego giant.

News photo
Phillies slugger Ryan Howard hammers a solo homer during the sixth inning of Thursday's game between MLB All-Stars and the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome. AP PHOTO

But David Wright hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth inning, and the MLB All-Stars salvaged a 7-7 tie in a nine-inning exhibition game Thursday at Tokyo Dome.

The Giants touched up 208-cm Padres pitcher Chris Young for four runs, kicking off the 2006 Japan All-Star Series, but MLB got it back, hitting three solo homers before Wright's tying shot.

"I was looking for something up that I could drive, but I got a slider he left over the plate," Wright said of Takahiko Nomaguchi's pitch. "In that situation, you have to stay focused. You really have to want to be in that situation."

The Giants did most of their damage with guys who didn't even play enough this season to be role players.

Makoto Kosaka, Takahiro Suzuki and Shigeyuki Furuki combined to go 5-for-6 with four walks, four stolen bases, four runs and an RBI.

"I think we were a little lucky to score those runs," Yomiuri manager Tatsunori Hara said of the trio's contributions. "With Furuki and Kosaka coming to us from other teams and Suzuki a rookie, we got good contributions from three Yomiuri newcomers. We will look for that in the future."

It was bad news for Young and the rest of the MLB pitchers, but a pleasant surprise for Giants fans who showed up to cheer on a Yomiuri squad without Hiroki Kokubo, Lee Seung Yeop and Yoshinobu Takahashi but was not without punch.

Catcher Shinnosuke Abe, one of a few familiar faces in the Yomiuri lineup, went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and three RBIs.

"Every day I build my lineup around the cleanup hitter, and today he was the only choice," Hara said.

Atlanta Braves center fielder Andruw Jones hit two solo homers and 2006 MLB home-run leader Ryan Howard added a solo shot. All three landed near the same spot in right-center field.

MLB will face a Japanese All-Star team in a five-game series beginning Friday at the Big Egg, so Thursday's loss before a crowd of 31,329 was more about shaking off rust after arriving Tuesday.

"The plan was to use everybody, and we got in everyone but (Brian) Schneider," said MLB manager Bruce Bochy. "That will be important in the rest of the series."

It turned into an informal coming-out party for the silent Giants, though.

Furuki had 18 hits in the regular season, driving in four runs in 50 games, but his leadoff triple in the third inning set the stage for the Giants to pull ahead.

Following Furuki's hit, Young balked the former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter home in the process of issuing the first of two walks to No. 9 hitter Kosaka, a .183 hitter, also with four RBIs, in 92 games this season.

Suzuki's RBI double, on the heels of Kenji Yano's single to right field, scored Kosaka.

The first outs Young recorded in the inning were back-to-back sacrifice flies by Tomohiro Nioka and Abe.

"We weren't able to have our main power guys in the lineup, but our young guys came in and did some little things," Hara said.

Young went 3 2/3 innings, chased after walking Furuki and Kosaka in the fourth. He didn't get another chance at Suzuki, who was subbed out before the fifth.

"My strength is speed, and I think I was able to show it," said Suzuki, who singled and stole a base in his first at-bat. "I hope the MLB guys will remember my hit."

Yankees left-hander Mike Myers came on and ended the inning, but during Abe's next at-bat, he showed he was not infallible.

MLB had jumped ahead in the top of the third when Rafael Furcal doubled in Chone Figgins, who scored from first base. Figgins reached on first baseman Takayuki Saito's error, so the run was unearned.

Giants starting pitcher Chiang Chien-ming went six innings, giving up the longballs to Jones and Howard in his final frame.

He walked one and gave up six hits in six innings.

"We wanted him to go five, but he was able to go six," Hara said.

Hara was less pleased with Nomaguchi, however, who gave up a single to Joe Mauer before Wright's homer.

Furcal was 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs.

Friday's NPB-MLB game at Tokyo Dome will begin at 6 p.m. Angels pitcher John Lackey will start for the MLB team, while NPB's starter is to be determined. Giants lefty Tetsuya Utsumi has been mentioned as a candidate.



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