Dye's two-run homer lifts MLB All-Stars over Japan

TOKYO -- Jermaine Dye hit a two-run homer and John Lackey
pitched five strong innings Friday as the MLB All-Stars defeated
the stars of Japan 3-2 in the opener of the five-game tour.

Dye, who hit 44 homers for the Chicago White Sox this season,
connected off Japanese starter Tetsuya Utsumi in the bottom of the
third inning at Tokyo Dome after Rafael Furcal singled.

"I got a hold of that one," Dye said. "Their pitcher left a
slider up in the strike zone and I got the bat on the ball."

Lackey gave up one run and two hits while striking out four. Joe Nathan retired the side in the ninth for the save.

"I felt really good out there," said Lackey, who went 13-11
for the Los Angeles Angels. "I was able throw a lot of strikes and
that helped me with the game."

The series continues Saturday with Bronson Arroyo expected to

The MLB stars got the game's first run in the second when Ryan Howard scored on a fielder's choice.

Japan cut the deficit to 3-1 in the fourth on an RBI
single by Michihiro Ogasawara and pulled to within a run in the
seventh on Yuuki Yoshimura's sacrifice fly.

MLB manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy his team opened the
series with a win.

"It was a great ballgame," he said. "It was close. Their guy
did a great job of cutting down the damage and we got a big home
run from Jermaine."

Utsumi took the loss, giving up three runs and nine hits in six

Japanese manager Katsuya Nomura said the gap between Japan and
the major leagues is closing.

"I've been in this game for 50 years," Nomura said. "I've
taken part in this series several times and it used to be there was
a huge gap in the level of play, but it's closing and we had a very
good chance of winning this ballgame tonight."