Big first inning helps Giants chase starter Watanabe, defeat Marines


The Yomiuri Giants wanted to hit the ground running in their final interleague series of the season. As a result, they ran all over Shunsuke Watanabe and the Chiba Lotte Marines.

The Giants scored four runs in the first inning and got a monstrous home run from Lee Seung Yeop in the third as they defeated the Marines 5-2 on Saturday at Tokyo Dome.

“That was good,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “We scored three runs right away and the fourth run was huge. Then Lee’s home run in the third gave us a comfortable lead.”

Yoshiyuki Kamei led the way by driving in two runs for the Kyojin, who won their third straight and are 8-3-2 this month. Kamei finished 2-for-4 at the plate.

“We hope to wrap up the interleague schedule with another win tomorrow,” Kamei said.

Lee, who has been struggling, hit his 12th homer of the season, a towering shot that struck just below the lights over the right-field stands.

It was a forgettable night at the office for starting pitcher Watanabe, who allowed five runs — four in the first — in the loss.

“I kept the pitches low but they hit them anyway,” said Watanabe, who pitched four innings. “It was a waste. It was my own fault for letting so many runners on.”

Watanabe fell to 1-6 on the year and is in search of his first victory since beating the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on May 6.

“I took the mound today with the intent of throwing strikes, but the pitches were too much in the middle of the strike zone,” Watanabe said. “If I had thrown more to the corners or the outside part of the strike zone, the result might have been different.”

Giants starter Seth Greisinger gave up hits to the game’s first two batters but pitched seven innings of one-run ball to record his seventh win of the season. He struck out four and earned his second win in as many starts.

“Greisinger’s pitches were high today, but he got the job done,” Hara said.

The Giants starter has bounced back nicely from consecutive losses late last month with three quality starts. Greisinger has given up three runs — two earned — over his last 22 innings.

“I tried to speed up my mechanics because my tempo was a little slow at first and my pitches were high. But (catcher Kazunari) Tsuruoka called a good game and kept the hitters off balance.

“I hope to continue my consistent pitching. It was a good win for the team as we end the interleague season.”

The Giants got off to a quick start in the first after a leadoff double from Hayato Sakamoto and a single by Tetsuya Matsumoto. Yomiuri loaded the bases when Watanabe hit Michihiro Ogasawara with a pitch.

Giants outfielder Alex Ramirez struck first, lining a single into right to drive in the game’s first run. Kamei followed with a two-run double to give the home team a 3-0 advantage. Kamei later scored himself, crossing home on Shigeyuki Furuki’s sacrifice fly later in the inning.

The Giants added to the lead in the third on Lee’s towering solo shot off Watanabe which made the score 5-0.

Lotte third baseman Toshiaki Imae cut the lead to 5-1 with an RBI single in the seventh.

The Marines mounted a rally against reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi in the eighth, benefiting from consecutive pinch-hit singles by Koichi Hori, Naotaka Takehara — which drove in a run — and Tsuyoshi Nishioka to start the inning.

Reliever Daisuke Ochi took over from there, inducing a 5-4-3 double play with his first pitch to Tadahito Iguchi and retiring Tomoya Satozaki on a grounder to third with his next.

Ochi worked a scoreless ninth to close out the game and earn his seventh save of the season.

The series finale is on Sunday.