Takashi Toritani and the Hanshin Tigers taught Yomiuri Giants fans a valuable lesson during their most recent meeting.
Baseball games end after 27 outs, not 25.
Dominated all night by a trio of Yomiuri Giants pitchers, the Tigers roared with one out in the ninth behind two-run homers by Toritani and Lin Wei-Ju, plus a solo shot from Ikuro Katsuragi to rally past the Central league-leading Giants 5-1 on Friday in front of 44,023 fans at Tokyo Dome.
“I could hear our fans calling for me to do something,” Toritani said. “I am happy I did not let them down.
“It is always special when we beat the Giants, especially on the road.”
After being held to just a pair of hits, the latter of which came in the fourth inning, the Tigers reeled off five consecutive hits, including a trio of home runs, to rally past the Giants.
“Our team mood was bad when we ended the seventh inning with a double play,” Hanshin manager Akinobu Mayumi said, referring to Katsuragi hitting into a 3-6-3 twin killing with the potential tying run on third. “But it picked up in a hurry after Toritani’s home run in the ninth.”
Hanshin trailed 1-0 when Takahiro Arai set the table with a one-out single off reliever Daisuke Ochi, facing his first batter of the night in the ninth. Toritani then connected on a first-pitch fastball for a go-ahead two-run homer to right.
“I was not trying to hit a home run, but just did not want to make an out,” Toritani said. “I got a ball I could drive and fortunately it went over the wall for a home run.”
Suddenly behind a run, the Giants hurler then yielded a single to catcher Keisuke Kano before giving up Lin’s two-run shot.
The hits kept coming after Ochi was relieved by Micheal Nakamura, with Katsuragi adding insult to injury with a homer that traveled an estimated 125 meters.
“It feels good to play home-run ball, as our team has not hit many home runs this season,” Mayumi said. “To hit three in that inning and win like that was very thrilling.”
The offensive outburst was an anomaly in a game that, until then, was dominated by pitching.
Tigers starter Satoru Kanemura did not factor into the decision, but was impressive in his season debut. The Hanshin starter allowed three hits and struck out three over six innings of one-run ball.
Kanemura is still in search of his first win with the Tigers since being traded to the Kansai club prior to the 2008 season. He was 0-5 in eight starts for Hanshin last season.
“He’s a good pitcher,” Tigers outfielder Kodai Sakurai said. “I think he pitched well tonight.”
Hanshin reliever Hirotaka Egusa retired the side in the seventh and Scott Atchison did the same in the eighth. Closer Kyuji Fujikawa did the honors in the ninth to preserve the win for Atchison (4-2).
The Hanshin pitching quartet combined to hold the Giants to one run on three hits, retiring the final 14 batters Yomiuri sent to the plate.
“I knew Kanemura was throwing well,” Atchison said. “Egusa threw well, I threw well and Kyuji also threw well. It was a good game. We were able to keep it right there and give the team a chance. In this park, obviously you saw how quickly things can change. It worked out well.”
For the Giants, starter Dicky Gonzalez gave up a season-high four walks, bringing his 2009 total to 10, but was effective at keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard. The Yomiuri starter tossed seven innings of shutout ball before turning over the reins to the Yomiuri bullpen.
Wirfin Obispo and Tetsuya Yamaguchi combined to record three outs in the eighth, with Yamaguchi also getting an out in the ninth. Yamaguchi was relieved by Ochi, who blew the save.
The victory was the just the third for the Tigers in their last 10 games.
Dragons crush ‘Stars
YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) Kazuhiro Wada and Atsushi Fujii drove in two runs apiece as the Chunichi Dragons routed the Yokohama BayStars 12-0 for their third consecutive win on Friday.
Wada and Fujii had consecutive RBI singles in the first inning. Chunichi built a 9-0 lead after four innings and finished with 16 hits.
Swallows 5, Carp 2
At Mazda Stadium, Jamie D’Antona went 4-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs as Tokyo Yakult handed Hiroshima its season-worst seventh consecutive loss.
D’Antona hit a leadoff homer in the second and broke open a one-run game with a two-run blast in the fifth, again off Kenta Maeda (5-9).
Marines 7, Hawks 3
At Chiba Marine Stadium, Gary Burnham Jr. hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the sixth inning as Chiba Lotte snapped a seven-game losing streak with a come-from-behind win over Fukuoka Softbank.
The Marines scored three runs to tie the game 3-3 in the third before Burnham’s shot to right off Justin Germano (4-1) gave Bobby Valentine’s team a 5-3 lead.
Buffaloes 4, Eagles 4 (12)