The Yomiuri Giants have dedicated this week’s series against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows to former Giants great Sadaharu Oh.
Unfortunately for the Kyojin, the Swallows left their mark all over the first game.
Norichika Aoki homered and finished with two RBIs and Shinichi Takeuchi drove in the go-ahead run to lead the Swallows to a 7-4 victory over the Giants on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.
“Today was a good win for our team and a good start to the three-game series against the Giants,” Takeuchi said.
“We’ll try our best to win again tomorrow and go for the sweep on Thursday.”
Aoki, who finished 3-for-4, has been on a tear as of late, finishing with multiple hits in six of his last seven games. He’s also homered in each of his last three contests, including a two-homer night against the Hanshin Tigers on June 28. He’s batting .581 with five home runs and seven RBIs over that span.
Yomiuri’s Alex Ramirez likely conjured up memories of Oh with his 21st and 22nd home runs of the season. Ramirez had a field day against his old team, going 4-for-4 with four RBIs.
Ramirez has not been kind to his former teammates this season, hitting seven of his 22 home runs off Swallows pitchers.
He tied the game with a three-run shot in the fourth, but Takeuchi and Wilson Valdez combined to fuel a three-run fifth to give Yakult the lead for good.
“Aoki, Takeuchi and Wilson were the big guns today,” Swallows manager Shigeru Takada said.
Ryo Kawashima (3-2) earned the win despite giving up four runs on Ramirez’s two homers. He gave up five hits and struck out nine over five innings to win his second straight decision.
Closer Lim Chang Yong worked the ninth to earn his 19th save of the season.
Giants starter Takahiko Nomaguchi never recovered after allowing two early runs and was chased after three innings.
Nomaguchi (2-3) allowed four runs on five hits.
Reliever Daisuke Ochi (0-2) was tagged with the loss after giving up three runs in the fifth.
Aoki got to the Yomiuri starter first with an RBI triple in the first inning.
Yakult doubled its lead on Kazuhiro Hatakeyama’s RBI groundout which allowed Aoki to cross home and make the score 2-0.
Ryohei Kawamoto put Yakult up 3-0 with a sacrifice fly in the top of the second, but Ramirez homered in the bottom half to pull the Giants within two runs.
Aoki hit his ninth homer of the season in the next inning to extend the lead to 4-1.
Takuya Kimura walked to lead off the fourth, and a single from Michihiro Ogasawara gave the Giants runners at first and second with Ramirez at the plate. The slugger didn’t disappoint, tying the game 4-4 with his second homer of the night.
Takeuchi broke the tie in the next inning with an RBI triple that scored Aoki from first, giving Yakult a 5-4 lead. Valdez then gave the Swallows some breathing room with a hit to shallow right that just landed fair and drove in two runs.
“It always feels good to get a win with a big hit like that,” Takeuchi said, “especially on the road against the Giants in a tight game like this.”
Tigers rout Dragons
NISHINOMIYA , Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Atsushi Fujimoto snapped a tie with a lucky groundout in the fifth inning and Tomoaki Kanemoto broke the game open with a two-run homer the following frame as the Hanshin Tigers romped past the Chunichi Dragons 8-3 Tuesday.
Fujimoto’s fielder’s choice to second baseman Masahiro Araki scored Lin Wei-zhu on a close play at home.
Pinch hitter Ikuro Katsuragi followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-3 at Koshien Stadium.
Takahiro Arai had an RBI triple before Kanemoto went deep to right.
Carp 3, BayStars 2
At Yamagata Prefectural Stadium, Kenta Kurihara hit a game-tying homer in the fourth inning, and Scott Seabol broke up the tie with an RBI double with one out in the seventh as Hiroshima edged Yokohama.
Kan Otake (3-9) allowed two runs in 6 2/3 innings for his first win since May 26.
Takeharu Kato (0-1) got tagged for the loss.
Buffaloes 4, Hawks 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Tuffy Rhodes hit a three-run homer and Satoshi Komatsu threw seven shutout innings, leading Orix to only its second winin nine games.
Fukuoka Softbank lost for the third straight contest.
Rhodes connected off Toshiya Sugiuchi (6-5) for his 19th homer of the season after Masahiro Abe and Alex Cabrera hit consecutive one-out singles in the first inning.
Osamu Hamanaka homered in the sixth to increase the lead to four runs.
Marines 7, Eagles 2
At Morioka’s Iwate Prefectural Stadium, Saburo Omura drove in three runs and Naoyuki Shimizu pitched his fifth complete game of the season, lifting Chiba Lotte over Tohoku Rakuten.
Lions 12, Fighters 7
At Seibu Dome, Takahiko G.G. Sato hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in a four-run sixth inning as Pacific League front-runner Seibu beat Hokkaido Nippon Ham after blowing an early five-run lead.