The Yomiuri Giants were missing their top offensive weapon in their game against the rival Hanshin Tigers.
Takuya Kimura made sure he wasn’t missed.
Home runs by Alex Ramirez and Shinnosuke Abe, plus a big day from Kimura, helped make up for the absence of Michihiro Ogasawara as the Giants beat the Tigers 9-7 in front of 45,630 fans on Saturday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.
“Whoever wins tomorrow wins the series,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “So I hope we can keep hitting, get good pitching and play our style of baseball. Then we should win again.”
Ogasawara, who has team highs in batting average (.315), home runs (25) and RBIs (78), was injured while running the bases in Friday’s 7-4 loss to the Tigers and was not able to play. Ogasawara is also not expected in the lineup for Sunday’s game.
“We played as if ‘Guts’ (Ogasawara) was in the lineup,” Kimura said.
Kimura helped take up the slack, driving in three runs and finishing with two doubles to highlight a 4-for-5 day. His first big contribution came in the second when he drove in a pair of runs with a two-bagger.
“I wanted to make the most of the chance after our pitcher got it started with a hit,” Kimura said, referring to starter Seth Greisinger’s single.
In the fifth, he came up with another timely hit, driving in a run after the Tigers had clawed their way back into the game with six runs in the top half.
“We had to shift the momentum back to our side,” Kimura said. “I’m glad I was the one to do it after Hanshin scored those six runs in the top of the inning.”
Ramirez’s homer was a three-run shot, and the reigning MVP finishing 2-for-4. Abe’s blast was a solo home run, and Yoshiyuki Kamei and Yoshitomo Tani also drove in runs.
“Since Ogasawara is not in the lineup, the hitters wanted to cover for him,” Kamei said.
Tigers slugger Tomoaki Kanemoto doubled in three straight at-bats and drove in a pair of runs to help the Tigers keep the score close. Teammates Takahiro Arai and Takashi Toritani also finished with two RBIs apiece.
Greisinger had a good game going until the disastrous fifth inning derailed his day. The Giants starter gave up six runs — none earned — after a pair of errors by Hayato Sakamoto and a failed double play attempt during the inning. Greisinger (10-5) struck out four and allowed six hits in the win.
Hanshin pitcher Kazuya Tsutsui (0-2) had a brief outing, allowing six runs on six hits and striking out two in the loss.
The Giants wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, taking a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Kamei in the first.
Greisinger hit a two-out single in the second, and Sakamoto did the same to put runners on first and second. Kimura followed with a double to shallow right that landed in front of — then bounced away from — Kodai Sakurai, allowing two runs to score. After Abe was hit with a pitch, Ramirez’s three-run shot gave the Giants a 6-0 lead.
Abe homered to right in the fourth, and Tani hit a run-scoring double later in the inning to extend the lead to eight.
Craig Brazell got the Tigers going in the right direction with a single in the fifth and later came around to score on an error by Sakamoto.
Norihiro Akahoshi kept the rally going with a single to load the bases and was driven home on Toritani’s two-run double. Kanemoto also drove in a run and Arai capped the frame with a two-run single that made the score 8-6.
Kimura singled in a run in the bottom half of the fifth, and Kanemoto followed with an RBI double in the seventh, making the score 9-7.
Dragons 2, Swallows 1
BayStars 6, Carp 3
Fighters 2, Lions 0
Eagles 5, Marines 1
Buffaloes 6, Hawks 0