D’Antona, Sato carry Swallows past Giants


Jamie D’Antona finally gave himself something to hang his hat on at Tokyo Dome with a home run in the third inning.

The second one was just icing on the cake.

D’Antona homered twice and starter Yoshinori Sato was on target most of the night as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows beat the Yomiuri Giants 10-5 on Saturday at the Big Egg in a game that also featured a benches-clearing incident.

“I was nervous from the beginning of the game,” Sato said. “So it feels good to hold the winning ball.”

D’Antona got off to a steady start with an RBI single in the first inning, then hit a three-run homer in the third, his first at Tokyo Dome. He added another home run in the seventh for good measure. The Yakult first baseman finished 3-for-4 with five RBIs.

D’Antona had an average of .147 with just two RBIs in nine previous games in Yomiuri’s home park.

Swallows center fielder Norichika Aoki also chipped in, driving in a pair of runs with a single in the sixth.

Giants reliever Norihito Kaneto incurred the wrath of Swallows outfielder Aaron Guiel in the ninth after a pitch over Guiel’s head came too close for comfort.

Players from both sides spilled out onto the field as Guiel took a few steps toward the mound. Order was restored without incident.

“There’s a lot of passion when we play the Giants,” Guiel said. “So you have a tendency to overreact.

“But when a pitcher is throwing above your shoulder blades, that’s dangerous and I was going to let him know how I felt about it.”

Guiel had the last laugh, hitting a two-run homer to straightaway center on the very next pitch.

“You just have to reset,” Guiel said of stepping to the plate after the commotion.

“At that score (the Swallows led 8-1 at the time) it’s still a game against the Giants.”

Guiel’s hit was initially ruled a double until the umpires signaled home run after reviewing the instant replay.

“They couldn’t tell so they had to look at the video,” Swallows manager Shigeru Takada said. “I’m glad they made the right call.”

The run support was more than enough for Sato, who was in cruise control for much of the night. Sato allowed one run and struck out five over eight innings to earn the victory.

“He really pitched great tonight,” Takada said. “Of course, he gave up a run on a big hit but he really pitched well tonight.”

Giants third baseman Michihiro Ogasawara was one of the few bright spots for the home team, going 2-for-4 with a solo homer.

Yomiuri rookie Hisayoshi Chono made his debut at the plate, flying out to shallow left field in his first at-bat. He finished 1-for-2 after collecting a hit in the ninth.

Giants starter Dicky Gonzalez was erratic for most of his six-inning outing. Gonzalez allowed seven runs on 10 hits and struck out five. He also hit three batters and walked one.

Gonzalez was behind from the start, giving up a leadoff hit to Kazuki Fukuchi in the first, only to have D’Antona drive the runner home with a single to right.

Swallows second baseman Hiroyasu Tanaka and Aoki led off the third with a pair of hits and scored on D’Antona’s first homer to make the score 4-0.

Tanaka hit into a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the sixth and Aoki’s bases-loaded single put two more runs on the board later in the inning.

The Giants pulled a run back on Ogasawara’s homer in the sixth, but D’Antona went deep again in the seventh to push the lead to 8-1.

Guiel’s ninth-inning shot made the score 10-1.

The Giants mounted a rally in the ninth, pushing across a run on an RBI from Yoshinobu Takahashi. They cut the lead to five on a three-run homer by Hayato Sakamoto.

The two teams will meet in the final game of their season-opening series on Sunday at Tokyo Dome, with the first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m.

Johjima lifts Tigers

OSAKA (Kyodo) Kenji Johjima hit a “sayonara” home run with two outs in the 11th inning as the Hanshin Tigers edged the Yokohama BayStars 4-3 on Saturday.

The former Seattle Mariners catcher drove a 2-0 slider from Atsushi Kizuka (0-1) over the wall in left-center at Kyocera Dome, a day after having three hits and four RBIs in the season opener.

“With two outs I was ready to take a full swing on a high pitch,” Johjima said. “We allowed the BayStars to score first again, but our pitchers kept the damage to a minimum. That’s why we had a chance to come back.”

Takashi Toritani had a run-scoring triple to highlight a three-run sixth inning that gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead. Seiichi Uchikawa hit his second sacrifice fly of the game in the eighth, tying the score.

Ken Nishimura (1-0) picked up his first career win with a scoreless 11th.

Dragons 7, Carp 0

At Nagoya Dome, Kazuhiro Wada hit a grand slam and Chen Wei-yin struck out 11 in a four-hit shutout, leading Chunichi over Hiroshima.

Wada homered to left-center off Giancarlo Alvarado (0-1) with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning. Tony Blanco singled in two runs and Hirokazu Ibata added an RBI infield single in the seventh.

Chen (1-0), who led the CL with a 1.54 ERA last year, did not allow a runner to reach third base.


Hawks 6, Buffaloes 2

At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Toshiya Sugiuchi struck out 14 in seven innings and Jose Ortiz homered and drove in three runs as Softbank snapped Orix’s four-game winning streak.

Lions 6, Eagles 4

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Dee Brown hit a three-run homer and Saitama Seibu scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning for a come-from-behind victory over Tohoku Rakuten.

Fighters 3, Marines 3 (12)

At Chiba Marine Stadium, Yu Darvish threw one-run ball over six innings with 11 strikeouts and Kim Tae Kyun got three RBIs as Hokkaido Nippon Ham and Chiba Lotte played to a tie.