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Ramirez leads happy Giants home

Kyodo

Alex Ramirez homered for the second straight day as the Yomiuri Giants outhit the Yokohama BayStars 7-5 on Sunday to take back-to-back wins into their much awaited return to Tokyo Dome this week.

Ramirez padded out the Giants’ lead in the top of the eighth inning at Yokohama Stadium with his fifth roundtripper of the season, off reliever Shigeru Kaga, a solo shot that dropped deep into the stands in left.

In a game that saw each team send out six pitchers, Yuya Kubo (1-1) pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth to pick up the win as the Giants warmed up for their home opener Tuesday against their nemesis, the Hanshin Tigers.

Levi Romero collected his third save with a perfect ninth.

The Giants’ Michihiro Ogasawara moved within two of his career 2,000th hit with a bloop single in the first.

“It’s very positive to go back to Tokyo in this condition,” said Ramirez, whose team has been on the road since the season started April 12. “Everybody’s swinging the bat pretty good and the pitchers are doing a good job. I think it’s going to be good for us.”

“We can’t wait to play at the Dome,” said Giants manager Tatsunori Hara. “It’s our home, and it’s just a fantastic stage to play at. It’s nice to be able to get ready for the day after tomorrow with a victory.”

Yokohama rookie Kota Suda (0-1) was hit with the loss after allowing six earned runs in just three innings in his second career start. Shuichi Murata homered twice off Giants starter Carlos Torres.

Ramirez also broke a club record held by the Oakland Athletics’ Hideki Matsui, appearing in his 416th consecutive game in the cleanup spot. It is the second longest streak in Japanese baseball.

“To be able to play every single day, that’s something that’s not easy,” Ramirez said. “It takes good health with the help of the trainers and coaches and manager to trust me. It’s something very special.”

“The manager wants to keep me in the game. In the major leagues, they have so many big guys the manager doesn’t rely on one or two guys and depends on the whole team. I’m the type of player who likes to be on the field every day.”

Swallows 6, Tigers 2

At Koshien Stadium, Wladimir Balentien went deep twice as Tokyo Yakult moved into sole possession of first place, beating Hanshin, for its 10th win of the season.

Dragons 5, Carp 4

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s Hitoki Iwase recorded his fourth save of the year the hard way, facing six batters and allowing a run before sealing a slim victory.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 3, Lions 3 (10)

At Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham rookie right-hander Yuki Saito failed to win his third straight start after allowing three runs in six innings on four hits.

Hawks 8, Marines 3

At QVC Marine Field, Alex Cabrera went 2-for-4 with three RBIs as Fukuoka Softbank avoided a three-game skid in Chiba to climb into second.

Buffaloes 10, Eagles 3

At Kleenex Stadium, Takahiro Okada and Hirotoshi Kitagawa drove in two runs apiece and Koji Yamasaki had three RBIs as Orix avoided a sweep by scoring in double digits for the first time this season.