The Yomiuri Giants hit a home run in their first at-bat and the runs just kept on coming.
Takahiro Suzuki hit a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first and Shinnosuke Abe went deep twice, his second a tie-breaking shot in the eighth, as the Yomiuri Giants defeated the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 9-8 in front of 43,100 fans on Saturday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.
“I was just trying to get something going,” Abe said of his game-winning home run. “(I was ) not thinking home run but just looking to get on base.”
Yoshinobu Takahashi also homered for the Giants, who hit four over the fence in a game for the second straight night. Ryota Wakiya, Michihiro Ogasawara, Alex Ramirez and Yoshitomo Tani each went deep in an 11-7 win over the Swallows on Friday.
“I was surprised myself that I hit two home runs today,” Abe said. “It’s a great feeling and I’m happy I got the game-winner.”
Swallows outfielder Kazuki Fukuchi hit a pair of homers and Hiroyasu Tanaka added a solo shot as the teams combined to hit seven home runs and score 17 runs on 24 hits.
Closer Marc Kroon preserved the win in the ninth for his franchise-record 33rd save of the season. Kroon broke the record previously held by Koji Uehara.
The feat didn’t come easy.
Kroon’s first pitch was a strike to Tanaka but his next seven were balls, which gave the Swallows runners at first and second. He also walked catcher Masakazu Fukukawa to load the bases with none out.
Pinch hitter Yuichi Matsumoto followed with a weak grounder to first which Ogasawara fielded to get the force out at home. Kroon struck out the next batter, Fukuchi, then retired Shinya Miyamoto on a grounder to short to end the game.
Yomiuri reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi (11-2) worked a scoreless eighth to earn the victory.
Yakult’s Ryota Igarashi (3-1) took the loss after giving up Abe’s homer in the eighth.
“This was a heart-throbbing game,” Abe said, “especially in the ninth inning when (the Swallows) had the bases loaded and nobody out. But we managed to escape without a run being scored.”
Suzuki drove in three runs on a 2-for-5 day, including a two-run triple to keep the Giants within striking distance of the league-leading Hanshin Tigers in the Central League standings.
“Every game is a game we can’t lose if we are going to catch the Tigers and win the pennant,” Abe said.
Giants starter Adrian Burnside allowed four runs on five hits and struck out three over five innings. Burnside did not factor into the decision.
Yakult’s Ryo Kawashima was in line to take the loss after allowing eight runs but was let off the hook when the Swallows rallied to tie the score in the sixth.
Trailing 1-0 in the second, the Swallows tied the game after Keizo Kawashima was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Yakult took the lead later in the inning on Ryohei Kawamoto’s sacrifice fly to right.
Takahashi and Abe put the Giants back on top with homers in the bottom half that made the score 3-2.
Kawamoto hit an RBI double in the fourth to make it 3-3.
Yomiuri shortstop Hayato Sakamoto broke the deadlock in the bottom of the inning with a two-run double and Suzuki’s run-scoring triple made the score 7-3 in favor of Yomiuri.
Fukuchi led off the fifth with a home run to left to make it 7-4.
Giants second baseman Takuya Kimura lined an RBI single up the middle in the fifth to give Yomiuri a four-run lead.
The Giants seemed to have things under control until the Swallows rallied to tie the score against relievers Shun Tono and Soichi Fujita in the sixth.
Yakult got a leadoff homer from Hiroyasu Tanaka against Tono to make the score 8-5. Keizo Kawashima followed with a single and Kawamoto was hit with a pitch to put two runners on with none out.
Fujita struck out pinch hitter Aaron Guiel, then gave up a game-tying three-run shot to the next batter, Fukuchi.
Yano lifts Tigers
NISHINOMIYA , Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Akihiro Yano doubled home the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th inning, lifting the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers to a 1-0 victory over the Hiroshima Carp on Saturday at Koshien Stadium.
Ikuro Katsuragi singled to start off the inning before Yano doubled off Tomohiro Umetsu (0-2) off the left-field wall with one out for the decisive blow. Kyuji Fujikawa (7-1) won in relief.
BayStars 5, Dragons 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Seiichi Uchikawa had an RBI double and Shuichi Murata hit a go-ahead two-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning as the hosts came from behind to beat Chunichi.
Tyrone Woods turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead with a three-run drive in the third inning and the Dragons went ahead 4-2 through the sixth before Yokohama’s dramatic rally. Murata’s 38th blast of the year put him in sole possession of the lead in the CL home run derby.
Lions 12, Eagles 0
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Takeya Nakamura and Yasuyuki Kataoka each homered and drove in seven runs between them and Kazuyuki Hoashi threw his third shutout of the season, leading Seibu to a rout of Tohoku Rakuten.
Nakamura had RBI doubles in the first and eighth innings before hitting his Pacific League-leading 39th homer with a solo shot in the ninth.
Fighters 7, Buffaloes 4
At Sapporo Dome, Shinji Takahashi and Makoto Kaneko each doubled in two runs as Hokkaido Nippon Ham snapped a nine-game losing skid against Orix.
Micheal Nakamura earned his 100th career save.
Marines 9, Hawks 6
At Chiba Marine Stadium, Saburo Omura hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth inning among his three hits as Chiba Lotte outslugged Softbank to halt a three-game losing skid.