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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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Clutch blast: Kodai Sakurai smacks a go-ahead, three-run home run in the eighth inning off Giants reliever Kiyoshi Toyoda on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome. Hanshin rallied for a 9-7 victory. KYODO PHOTO

Tigers stage dramatic comeback against Giants


Staff writer

The Hanshin Tigers were rude hosts to Shugo Fujii when they faced him a week ago.

News photo
Look of frustration: Giants reliever Kiyoshi Toyoda reacts after giving up a three-run homer to Kodai Sakurai in the eighth inning on Tuesday. That gave Hanshin an 8-7 lead en route to a victory. KYODO PHOTO

The Yomiuri Giants left-hander found out the rowdy Tigers don't play nice when they're the visitors either.

A Hanshin home-run barrage chased Fujii from the game in the sixth, and Kodai Sakurai's come-from-behind three-run homer in the eighth was the difference as the Tigers rallied past the Giants 9-7 on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.

"I wasn't thinking home run but I got a fat pitch on the first one and I was able to drive it," Sakurai said.

The Tigers have now won three straight as they head into their next two games against the Giants.

"This was a big win for our team," Sakurai said. "Everybody contributed and we were able to come back from being behind.

"My hit put us ahead, but it was a total team effort."

Hanshin lost last week's series against its archrival at its home park and is set for revenge this time around.

"We lost two of three against the Giants at Koshien," Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi said. "So we are out to turn that around here in Tokyo."

The Tigers trailed for most of the game, but muscled their way back into contention with a power display worthy of the Giants themselves. Hanshin hit five homers and scored nine runs from the sixth inning on.

"(Takashi) Toritani and Sakurai had been slumping, so it was great to see them wake up and hit the long ball with runners on base," Mayumi said.

Hanshin homers cost Fujii a shot at his first victory with the Giants exactly a week ago at Koshien Stadium, and the Tigers cooked up a dose of deja vu in their latest meeting.

Fujii took a 6-0 lead into the sixth, then gave up a two-run shot to Toritani. Two batters later, Takahiro Arai knocked him out of the game with a solo shot to left.

Giants reliever Yuya Kubo took over from there and yielded a two-run homer to Craig Brazell that made the score 6-5.

The big inning seemingly re-energized the Tigers as they mounted their big comeback.

"It was really quiet in the dugout," Brazell said. "Nobody was saying much. Then we were able to string some hits together.

"It's a real boost to win a game like this. Nobody quit and nobody gave up. Everybody just kept fighting."

After Giants slugger Alex Ramirez drove in a run in the seventh, Hanshin took the lead on Sakurai's three-run blast to the throng of Tigers supporters in left field. Matt Murton added a solo homer later in the inning to make the score 9-7.

"It's a big win for us," Murton said. "In this building, you always have a chance."

Fujii didn't factor into the decision, lasting 5 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on six hits. He's been foiled in all three of his attempts to win a game in a Yomiuri uniform after joining the team in the offseason.

Hanshin's Tomoyuki Kubota (1-1) picked up the win in relief, allowing no runs and two hits in one inning. Closer Kyuji Fujikawa recorded the final five outs for his fourth save of the year.

Atsushi Nomi started the game for the Tigers but was under fire early and often. Nomi lasted 2 1/3 innings, allowing six run on eight hits.

Giants reliever Kiyoshi Toyoda (0-1) was charged with the loss after allowing three runs in one-third of an inning.

Michihiro Ogasawara and Yoshiyuki Kamei both homered and finished with two RBIs to lead the Giants at the plate. Ramirez also drove in two runs.

Carp edge Swallows

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Yoshiyuki Ishihara hit a game-ending homer with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Hiroshima Carp a 3-2 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Tuesday.

Masafumi Suenaga and Kenta Kurihara hit consecutive RBI singles in the first before Hiroyasu Tanaka had a tying, two-run homer in the third.

Ken Takahashi (1-0) got the last four outs for the win. Hiromitsu Takagi (0-1) took the loss for the Swallows, who dropped their third straight.

Dragons 8, BayStars 7 (11)

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Lions 5, Eagles 3

At Seibu Dome, Saitama Seibu's Toru Hosokawa knotted the score with a leadoff homer in the sixth inning and Takumi Kuriyama had a tiebreaking two run double two innings later.

With the game tied at 3-all in the eighth, Kuriyama doubled off Tohoku Rakuten reliever Wataru Karashima (0-1) with runners on first and second for the decisive runs.

Takayuki Kishi (3-1) pitched three-run ball over eight gritty innings, striking out nine and Brian Sikorski retired the side in the ninth for his sixth save.

Hawks 8, Buffaloes 6

At Osaka's Kyocera Dome, Yuichi Honda and Jose Ortiz hit back-to-back RBI singles in the sixth inning as Fukuoka Softbank sent Orix to its third straight defeat.

Marines 8, Fighters 7 (10)



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