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Abe powers Giants past lowly BayStars

by Jason Coskrey

The month of June has sure been kind to Shinnosuke Abe.

The red-hot Yomiuri captain hit two home runs, Edgar Gonzalez added a three-run shot, and the Yomiuri Giants ran over the reeling Yokohama BayStars 11-2 on Saturday at Tokyo Dome.

“Abe gave us two more home runs today, and our offense is really clicking,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. ‘It’s a great feeling.”

Abe hit a three-run homer in the third inning, then hit his NPB-leading 24th of the season to lead off the sixth. He was pulled from the rout early and finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

“I’m just taking one game, one at-bat at a time and not thinking about leading the league in home runs,” Abe said.

He caught fire during the latter half of the interleague schedule and hasn’t cooled in the slightest, hitting .353 with 12 homers and 18 RBIs in 18 games this month.

“I’m locked in,” Abe said. “I can’t explain it. Even I think it’s scary.”

Following Abe’s lead, the Giants pounded out a total of 14 hits against the hapless BayStars’ pitchers.

Yomiuri’s Alex Ramirez, one behind Abe in the home run chase, finished 2-for-3 and drove in a run. Rookie Hisayoshi Chono had an RBI single among his two hits, and Ryota Wakiya also drove in a run.

Gonzalez capped a five-run fifth with his second homer of the season and drove in three runs in the win.

Giants starter Shugo Fujii struggled to find the strike zone early, prompting a brief visit to the mound by Hara in the fourth. He settled down later and was buoyed by the team’s performance at the plate.

Fujii (6-1) gave up two runs on four hits, walked four and struck out five.

“Fujii’s control wasn’t the best today, but it was good enough for us to win,” Hara said. “When I went to the mound, I just told him gambatte (do your best).”

Yokohama pitcher Naoyuki Shimizu (7-6) allowed eight runs — seven earned — and 10 hits over four-plus innings.

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Visit The Japan Times’ Web site for a recap of Saturday’s other NPB games.