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Yano, Giants clobber Carp

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

A fan fell out of the stands and had to be stretchered off. Four players were hit with pitches, including one who had to be carried off, and one fan got more than she bargained for when a foul ball came hurtling toward her from above.

And that was all before things really got exciting.

Yomiuri Giants captain Shinnosuke Abe hit a tie-breaking two-run double in the eighth inning and Kenji Yano added the team’s first grand slam of the year later in the frame as Yomiuri battered two Hiroshima Carp relievers in a 9-3 win on Friday at Tokyo Dome.

“Our hitters really came through in the eighth,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “I hope we can have more innings like this in our remaining games.”

The win pulled the Giants to within three games of the second-place Chunichi Dragons in the race for home-field advantage during the first stage of the Central League Climax Series which begins later this month.

Despite the lopsided result, Yomiuri had been held in check before exploding in a seven-run eighth.

With the score tied 2-2, Daisuke Fujimura led off the inning with a walk and went to second on a single from Hisayoshi Chono. Abe followed with his tie-breaking hit.

“I wondered if the manager would give me the bunt sign, but he told me to go ahead and hit,” Abe said.

Having put his captain in the cleanup spot, Hara gave Abe a chance to show what he could do.

“I told him to hit as he usually does, and that’s what he did,” Hara said.

Alex Ramirez then singled and Yoshinobu Takahashi drew a walk to load the bases. Yano drove them all in with one swing of the bat.

“After the walk to Takahashi, I thought I would get a strike on the first pitch, so I was ready for it,” Yano said.

It was his first homer of the season and first grand slam in four years.

“I was really excited and felt great when I hit it,” Yano said.

Josh Fields, who made a rare appearance as a pinch runner in the second inning, remaining in to replace the injured Shigeyuki Furuki at third, followed Yano’s shot with a triple to center. He later scored on a balk by pitcher Dioni Soriano who was charged with three runs in the inning.

Lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi (4-1) earned the win, pitching two-thirds of an inning in relief.

Carp reliever Hideki Kishimoto struck out the side in the seventh, but was saddled with the loss after being charged with four runs in the eighth.

Kenta Kurihara got the Carp on the board in the first inning with his 82nd RBI of the season, pulling him into a tie with Tokyo Yakult Swallows slugger Kazuhiro Hatakeyama for the CL lead.

Hiroshima catcher Yoshikazu Kura drew a bases-loaded walk in the sixth which tied the score at 2-2, and Shogo Kimura drove in a run with a single in the ninth.

There was a scary moment in the top of the first, when field staff and the Giants trainer rushed out to right field when a fan appeared to fall onto the field.

Furuki had to be carried off in the second inning after being hit in the leg by a pitch from the Carp’s rookie starter, Yuya Fukui.