Giants recover from bad start in Game 2

Abe, Omichi give club a boost with timely hits


The Chunichi Dragons got off to another fast start in the Central League Climax Series.

This time all they managed to do was awaken the sleeping Yomiuri Giants lineup.

Shinnosuke Abe hit a go-ahead home run in the fourth inning and Noriyoshi Omichi enjoyed a rare moment in the sun with a two-run double as Yomiuri regained control of the series with a 6-4 victory in front of a crowd of 40,452 on Thursday at Tokyo Dome.

“We got off to a bad start again tonight, giving up two runs in the first,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “But unlike yesterday, we were able to come back.”

The win gives the Giants a 2-1 lead in the second stage of the CL playoffs and puts the club two wins away from a trip to the Japan Series.

Abe led off the fourth with a tie-breaking solo homer that just cleared the wall in left-center to put Yomiuri ahead 3-2.

“Today we played a much better game than yesterday,” Abe said. “Chen (Wei-yin) is a good pitcher and tough to hit. So I’m glad I was able to hit a home run off him. Especially in this game (which) we felt we had to win.”

Shigeyuki Furuki and pitcher Wirfin Obispo then reached on bunts and advanced on a sacrifice by Hayato Sakamoto.

The seldom-used Omichi, pinch hitting for Tetsuya Matsumoto, then sent a double down the left-field line to drive in both runners, putting the Kyojin ahead by three runs.

“I kept my swing compact and was lucky to keep it fair down the line,” Omichi said.

Omichi, who pumped his fists in a “guts pose” at second base, nearly matched his RBI total for the season (3) with the hit.

“The veteran Omichi came through with a clutch pinch hit,” Hara said. “I can always count on him.”

Michihiro Ogasawara, Alex Ramirez and Sakamoto also drove in runs for the Giants.

All nine Yomiuri starters (plus pinch hitter Omichi) recorded a hit with four — Sakamoto, Michihiro Ogasawara, Furuki and Obispo — finishing with at least a pair.

The Giants ended the game with 15 hits after getting just five in Wednesday’s 7-2 loss in Game 1.

Obispo was a winner in his postseason debut on the mound, allowing two runs on three hits. Despite giving up just one hit after the first, Obispo was shaky at times, hitting three batters and walking four.

“Obispo gave us 5 2/3 innings and we had the lead,” Hara said. “So I am happy with his performance.”

Tetsuya Yamaguchi took over in the sixth and tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings before Daisuke Ochi gave up a pair of runs in the eighth.

Closer Marc Kroon survived a tense duel with pinch hitter Kazuyoshi Tatsunami for the final out of the eighth and completed a four-out save by striking out Tony Blanco to cap a scoreless ninth.

The Dragons sent their best pitcher, Chen, to the mound on short rest and he did a decent job through the first two innings. He labored through a taxing third, however, during which he threw 40 of his 88 pitches on the night, as the Giants were able to keep fouling off balls.

That grind may have taken its toll as Chen was lifted after giving up three runs in the fourth. He lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up five runs on nine hits.

The Chunichi starter had the lead the first time he took the mound after Masahiko Morino gave the Dragons an early advantage with a two-run homer three minutes into the game.

The Giants pulled one back in the bottom half of the first on a single by Ogasawara after Sakamoto led off the inning with a double. Yomiuri got even on Ramirez’s RBI single in the third before Abe and Omichi combined to drive in three runs in the fourth. Sakamoto added an insurance run with a fifth-inning RBI single.

Dragons outfielder Atsushi Fujii took Ochi deep in the eighth to drive in a pair of runs, making the score 6-4.