The beer’s on Kenta Kurihara tonight.
Maybe he’ll spare a round to help celebrate Yomiuri Giants pitcher Wirfin Obispo’s first win in Japan.
Obispo made the most of his first chance to start for the Giants and the Kyojin backed him up with a 12-hit night at the plate in a 4-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp on Thursday in front of 41,489 fans at Tokyo Dome.
“I tried to go as long as I could then waited for the result with great anticipation,” Obispo said. “My teammates really supported me and (catcher Shinnosuke) Abe called a great game.”
Despite seemingly spending most of the night on the brink of disaster, Obispo grinded out 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, striking out six and walking two. He scattered seven hits and escaped a bases-loaded jam at one point.
Obispo left the game after giving up a walk and a single with two outs in the seventh. Kiyoshi Toyoda inherited the baserunners and walked Kurihara to bring the potential go-ahead run, Go Kida, to the plate. Toyoda got Kida to fly out to right to end the threat, earning his 13th hold of the season.
Not usually a part of the rotation, Opisbo was chosen to make the spot start; conventional wisdom being the Giants are saving their top three pitchers — Dicky Gonzalez, Seth Greisinger and Tetsuya Utsumi — for their upcoming series against the Chunichi Dragons which begins on Friday.
“We’re taking one game at a time,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “We have a tough series coming up, starting tomorrow against the Dragons, so we’ll see what happens.”
Yomiuri shortstop Hayato Sakamoto went 2-for-4 with an RBI to raise his Central League-leading average to .352. Four other Giants, Yoshiyuki Kamei, Tetsuya Matsumoto, Ryota Wakiya and Lee Seung Yeop also had multi-hit nights.
Kurihara set the Big Egg abuzz with a towering solo homer off Obisbo that ricocheted off a Kirin Beer advertisement high above the left field stands. Players who hit the sign during play are usually awarded a year’s supply of beer tickets.
He was the lone bright spot for the Carp, finishing 2-for-2 with an RBI.
The Carp had their chances, but left a number of runners stranded in scoring position including a pair of bases-loaded flyouts by No. 5 hitter Kida.
“We couldn’t get a big hit,” Carp manager Marty Brown said. “We scattered out seven hits but we couldn’t get a big hit.
“Kida gave himself a chance. He swung at a pitch out of the zone the first time, and the second time he got a good pitch to hit; he just popped it up . . . Whether there’s two outs or one out or no outs, if you’re the five hole hitter and you’ve got bases loaded, that’s what you’re paid to do. Drive those runs in.”
Carp starter Colby Lewis gave up four runs on 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings to fall to 4-4 on the season.
Kurihara’s big shot in the second gave the Carp an early lead but the Giants stormed back to tie in bottom half, with a little help from a controversial call.
Leading off the inning, Kamei appeared to be out after catcher Yoshiyuki Ishihara caught his foul popup near the netting behind home plate. Home plate umpire Masanobu Suginaga, however, said the ball hit the screen prior to the catch, ruling the play a foul.
Brown argued the call to no avail and Kamei eventually hit a single into center field. Kamei was later driven home on a single by Lee which tied the game.
“It’s one run,” Brown said. “He (Suginaga) didn’t even get back there to see it. He had bad position, didn’t see it. It was obvious that he missed it. Umpires aren’t going to be perfect; just be nice if they would admit when they’re wrong.”
Yomiuri went ahead 2-1 on an RBI single by Alex Ramirez, and Kamei picked up an RBI later in the inning to give the Giants a two-run lead.
Sakamoto stretched the lead to three runs with an RBI double in the sixth that made the score 4-1.
Tigers 4, Dragons 3
At Nagoya Dome, Craig Brazell hit a solo homer and delivered a go-ahead two-run double as Hanshin avoided a three-game sweep and snapped Chunichi’s winning streak at eight games.
Brazell cut the Tigers’ deficit to 3-2 with his shot in the seventh and doubled to left-center off Takuya Asao (5-6) with runners at the corners one inning later for the lead.
Fighters 6, Eagles 3
Buffaloes 6, Hawks 5 (11)
Marines at Lions — late