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Friday, July 1, 2011

Home field advantage helps Giants tie Swallows


Staff writer

After a night spent blowing chances, the Yomiuri Giants may have gotten their biggest assist from the Tokyo Dome turf.

News photo
Hit man: Tokyo Yakult's Norichika Aoki gets one of his three hits in Thursday night's 4-4 tie with the Yomiuri Giants at Tokyo Dome. Earlier, the Swallows outfielder was announced as the top vote-getter for this year's All-Star games. KYODO PHOTO

A fortunate turn of events in the ninth inning helped the Giants rally from two runs down and earn a 4-4 tie against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Thursday in front of a crowd of 38,715 at The Big Egg.

It was the second straight tie for the squads, who played out a 5-5 deadlock on Wednesday in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. Both games only lasted 10 innings due to a power-saving rule that dictates no new inning after the ninth can begin 3? hours after the start of a game.

Yomiuri began the ninth trailing 4-2. Alex Ramirez led off with a single and was replaced by a pinch runner. The next batter, Michihiro Ogasawara, hit a weak grounder back to Yakult closer Lim Chang Yong.

Lim moved to field the ball, hoping to make the easy throw to first for an out, but lost his footing and fell, leaving the runners safe at first and second. He struck out Yoshinobu Takahashi for the first out, but gave up an RBI single to Shinnosuke Abe.

Takahiro Suzuki, running for Ogasawara, went to third on Abe's hit, then came home to score the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Ryota Wakiya.

The result meant Swallows starter Shohei Tateyama missed an opportunity to snap his streak of bad luck at Tokyo Dome.

Tateyama (6-1) allowed a pair of runs on six hits in eight innings on the mound. He struck out five and walked one. It was his ninth straight appearance at the Giants' home park without a win.

Conversely, the result spared Shun Tono (2-7) from a loss. Tono allowed three runs on six hits, walked three and struck out two.

Swallows leadoff man Norichika Aoki, voted into the upcoming All-Star series by the fans, passed Yomiuri's Hisayoshi Chono for the CL lead in batting average (.327) with a 3-for-4 night at the plate. Aoki also had a pair of RBIs.

Yakult's Hiroyasu Tanaka finished with two hits and an RBI and Josh Whitesell drove in the team's other run.

Swallows outfielder Wladimir Balentien found out the fans also voted him into this month's All-Star games, but that wasn't enough to snap him out of his funk. Balentien finished 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 39 at-bats.

Abe hit a solo homer in the seventh and finished 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Ramirez was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Dragons end losing run

Kyodo

Kazuhiro Wada hit a three-run home run in the third inning as Chunichi beat Yokohama 4-1 at Yokohama Stadium to halt a three-game slide on Thursday in the Central League.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 5, Marines 4

At Sapporo Dome, Yu Darvish became the first 10-game winner this year.

Hawks 3, Eagles 1

At Kleenex Stadium, Alex Cabrera broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the sixth inning.

Lions 6, Buffaloes 2

At Kyocera Dome, Yusei Kikuchi picked up his first career win.



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