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Saburo HRs in debut at-bat but Giants’ pen goes up in smoke

The only way Saburo Omura’s first at-bat with the Yomiuri Giants could have been better on Friday at Tokyo Dome was if the bases had been loaded. The only way the Giants could have won it in the top of the ninth is if the bases had been empty for Takehiro Donoue’s first at-bat of the game.

Omura, traded from the Lotte Marines to the Giants this week, slugged a go-ahead pinch-hit solo shot in the eighth inning, but pinch-hitter Donoue tripled with two outs and the bases loaded, and the Chunichi Dragons flew off with a 5-3 win.

The three runs gave the Dragons a 4-2 lead, and wild pitch plated the fifth run, which was a key for Chunichi in a drama-filled ninth inning.

All-time saves leader Hitoki Iwase fanned the first batter he faced, but allowed a double before fanning pinch-hitter Yoshitomo Tani. After walking Saburo, skipper Hiromitsu Ochiai gave the lefty the hook.

Takuya Asao allowed an infield single to score a run, but whiffed Yoshiyuki Kamei to seal the deal and keep the Dragons over .500 at 28-26. The Giants fell a season-worst seven games under .500.

“I just wanted to do whatever I had to do to win,” said Donoue, hitting over .700 as a pinch-hitter. “I was thinking home run or extra-base hit.

“I wanted to make sure I didn’t go after pitches that were too low. After that, I just focused on putting a good swing on the ball. It was a miracle. I’m the one who’s most surprised by it.”

Kazuki Yoshimi (7-2) scattered five hits, two of the homers, and two walks over seven innings for the win. It was Asao’s third save.


Wladimir Balentien homered for his first hit in 40 at-bats, and Atsushi Fujimoto’s ninth-inning three-run homer broke a 1-1 tie as Yakult won at The Zoom.

Takehiko Oshimoto worked the ninth for his first save since Oct. 11, 2009, the third of his career.


Takahiro Arai homered and Minoru Iwata (5-5) worked strong innings as Hanshin routed lowly Yokohama in Okayama.

The victory was the 4,000th in Hanshin’s history, making it the sixth franchise to reach that milestone.



Seibu Dome used just half the lighting, but Nippon Ham’s Yoshio Itoi beat the daylights out of Seibu, doubling three times and driving in a run as the Fighters won the opener.

Sho Nakata also doubled twice, and Atsunori Inaba drove in two with four hits, including one of Nippon Ham’s six two-baggers.


First-year import Michael Hessman blasted a pair of mammoth three-run homers (Nos. 5 and 6) and Lee Seung Yeop also went deep as Orix, wearing red uniforms, battered front-running SoftBank in their sky-blue garb at Kyocera Dome Osaka.

Hayato Terahara (8-4) scattered six hits with no walks and four Ks, while Hiroki Yamada (6-4) got rocked for nine runs on eight hits -- three longballs -- in five innings.


Masahiro Tanaka (8-2) continued his domination, holding Lotte scoreless over the distance to lower his ERA to 1.08 as Rakuten got enough offense in a shutout at The Kleenex Box.

Akinori Iwamura and Luis Garcia drove in runs to back Tanaka, who fired his second shutout this season, the ninth in his career.


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