Yomiuri Giants players Yoshiyuki Kamei and Kazunari Tsuruoka combined to drive in five runs against the Hanshin Tigers on Friday.
Even that was almost not enough to overcome Tomoaki Kanemoto.
Tsuruoka homered twice and Kamei drove in a run with a triple to help the Giants survive another big night at the plate by the red-hot Kanemoto in a 6-5 win over the Tigers on Friday night at Tokyo Dome.
“No doubt Tsuruoka’s two home runs and his double won the game for us tonight,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said.
“Kamei’s triple was also big and we were able to take advantage of Hanshin’s fielding mistakes.”
The win was the fourth in a row for the Giants.
“The team and all the players are in a good mood,” Kamei said. “So there is no reason why we can’t extend our winning streak to five tomorrow.”
Tsuruoka, who started in place of injured catcher Shinnosuke Abe, hit home runs in back-to-back at-bats and was 3-for-4 with four RBIs to help Yomiuri win its first meeting of the season against its rival from Osaka.
“I thought of our pitchers and how they needed some run support,” Tsuruoka said. “I am happy I was able to contribute.
“I’ll continue to do my best as a fill-in for Abe.”
Kanemoto did the Giants catcher one better, homering in the third, sixth and eighth innings and driving in four runs on a 3-for-4 night at the plate.
It was Kanemoto’s second three-homer game in three days. The Hanshin outfielder went deep against the Hiroshima Carp three times on Wednesday, driving in seven runs in an 8-2 victory.
The 41-year-old is batting .607 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs, leading the NPB in all three categories, to start the season.
One of Kanemoto’s home runs was a part of a two-run sixth, which helped the Tigers tie the score at 4-4.
Batting fifth rather than in his usual spot at the top of the order, Kamei broke the sixth-inning tie with a RBI triple that right fielder Kevin Mench bobbled.
“I wasn’t thinking anything special while in the batter’s box,” Kamei said. “Just looking for a good pitch to hit and I got one I could pull down the right-field line.”
Pitcher Daisuke Ochi (1-0) picked up the win in relief, throwing eight pitches in one scoreless inning. Marc Kroon worked the ninth to earn his first save of the season.
Giants starter Tetsuya Utsumi gave up four runs on six hits before being relieved in the fifth after being hit on the foot by a ball off the bat of Keisuke Kano. Utsumi did not factor into the decision.
Tigers hurler Yuya Ando also did not receive a decision after yielding four runs — three earned — and striking out four over five innings. Reliever Hirotaka Egusa was charged with the loss.
Takashi Toritani hit into a one-out fielder’s choice to put a runner on second with two outs in the third. Kanemoto followed with a homer to right to put Hanshin ahead 2-0.
The Giants pulled a run back in the bottom half of the inning with Tsuruoka scoring on a throwing error by first baseman Kentaro Sekimoto.
Lee Seung Yeop and Hayato Sakamoto put Yomiuri in position to take the lead with consecutive one-out singles in the fifth. Tsuruoka capped the rally with his shot to deep left which made the score 4-2.
Kanemoto struck again to lead off the fifth, making the score 4-3 with another homer to right. Hanshin tied the game on an RBI single by Kano later in the inning.
Kamei broke the tie with his triple in the sixth, and Tsuruoka padded the lead with his second homer in the seventh to make the score 6-4.
Kanemoto hit his third homer of the night, this one off reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi, to lead off the eighth and make the score 6-5, but the Tigers weren’t able to muster any more offense from that point.
Dragons rout Carp
HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) Masahiko Morino went 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Hiroshima Carp 11-3 and spoiled Hiroshima’s home opener at new Mazda Stadium.
BayStars 9, Swallows 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Takehiro Ishikawa and Toshihiro Noguchi drove in two runs apiece to back a solid outing by Daisuke Miura as the BayStars routed Tokyo Yakult to pick up their first win of the season after six straight losses.
Fighters 9, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Yu Darvish allowed one unearned run in eight dominant innings, leading Hokkaido Nippon Ham to a rout over Softbank.
Lions 6, Eagles 0
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Hideaki Wakui put up eight scoreless innings to outpitch Hisashi Iwakuma, leading Seibu over Tohoku Rakuten.
Buffaloes 10, Marines 8
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Greg LaRocca went 4-for-4 with three home runs and seven RBIs as Orix handed Lotte its third straight defeat.