Making his first start for the Yomiuri Giants since April 14, Ken Kadokura wasn’t dominant but he was good. Though with Shinnosuke Abe backing him up, that was good enough.
Abe hit a three-run home run and called a good game behind the plate to support the Yomiuri starter as the Giants beat the Hanshin Tigers 3-2 in front of 44,212 fans at the Tokyo Dome on Tuesday.
Kadokura (1-3) allowed only Andy Sheets’ first-inning homer and gave up three hits over six innings to pick up his first win this season. Giants closer Koji Uehara picked up his 20th save despite giving up a run in the ninth.
“I’m so happy,” Kadokura said as he began to cry during the post-game hero interview. “It’s been a tough four months for me and I’m so thankful for the support of my family and the fans,” he finished before having to leave the interview after being overcome with emotion.
The Giants’ All-Star catcher finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.
“Our fans provided a great atmosphere for the game against Hanshin and Kadokura pitched a great game,” Abe said.
The win continues the recent hot streak for the Giants. The Central League leaders have won six in a row and 10 of their last 12.
“That was a nerve-racking game and Kadokura came up big for us,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “We’ve won six in a row and got off to a good start in this big series against the Tigers.”
Hanshin starter Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi (8-6) pitched well but didn’t have the run support behind him as he lost his second consecutive start.
After retiring the Giants on four pitches in the third inning, Shimoyanagi was undone in the fourth. The Hanshin hurler gave up a leadoff single to Tomohiro Nioka before yielding another to Lee Seung Yeop later in the inning. Abe then cleared the bases with his 25th home run of the season to put the Giants up 3-1.
In last place in the Central League at one point, the Tigers had gone 12-2 over their last 14 games to surge into contention.
A win combined with a Chunichi Dragons loss would have put the Tigers in second place in the CL standings.
Hanshin Tigers on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.
Instead, the loss rendered the Chunichi result meaningless and sent the Tigers back into fourth place behind the Yokohama BayStars, who defeated the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3-2 at Jingu Stadium.
The Giants and Tigers will meet tonight in game two of the series at Tokyo Dome.
Dragons rally in 7th
NAGOYA (Kyodo) Tyrone Woods hit a tiebreaking RBI double in a five-run rally in the seventh inning as the Chunichi Dragons came from behind to beat the Hiroshima Carp 6-3, sending the visitors to theirfourth defeat in a row.
Alex Ochoa had an RBI single in the fourth before Chunichi pulled one back on Lee Byung Kyu’s RBI double in the bottom half to tie it 1-1.
Takahiro Arai hit an RBI double in the fifth and Akihiro Higashide a sacrifice fly in the sixth, but Takehiro Donoue sparked the rally with an RBI single that cut the deficit one run in the big inning.
BayStars 3, Swallows 2
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Hayato Terahara limited the damage to one run in 6 2/3 innings, setting the pace as Yokohama scraped by Yakult to win its third straight and return to third in the CL standings.
Yuki Yoshimura hit a pair of solo blasts in consecutive at-bats and Toshihisa Nishi had an RBI single, making it 3-1 in the seventh. Adam Riggs’s RBI single in the eighth was not enough to rally the Swallows.
Terahara (8-8) allowed five hits, striking out eight with one walk and a hit batsman. Marc Kroon struck out three in the ninth to record 20 saves for the third consecutive year.
Yakult dropped its fifth straight game.
Lions 5, Hawks 3
Eagles 5, Fighters 2
Buffaloes 3, Marines 0