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Swallows pay price as Fujii fuels Giants

by Jason Coskrey

Shugo Fujii may be a pitcher by trade, but he taught the Tokyo Yakult Swallows an important lesson with his bat on Monday.

Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it.

The Swallows intentionally walked Hisayoshi Chono to get to Fujii with two outs in the second inning and his ensuing single sparked a five-run outburst, capped by Ryota Wakiya’s first-ever grand slam, as the Giants cruised to a 7-2 win in front of 45,210 fans at Tokyo Dome.

“Wakiya’s grand slam was huge and it allowed Fujii to relax and pitch his game,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said.

The result gets Yomiuri back on track after three straight losses knocked the Giants out of first place. Their crosstown rivals continue to go in the other direction, having lost six of seven.

“It was most important we stopped the losing streak,” Wakiya said. “Hanshin is losing, so it looks like we’ll be back in first place tonight,” he added referring to the Tigers’ game against the Chunichi Dragons.

Hanshin’s loss puts the Giants back on top of the Central League standings.

Fujii (2-1) notched his second win in as many starts after allowing one run on one hit and striking out five in six innings.

The win was also his first against the Swallows, the team with whom he spent his first eight seasons. Fujii has now recorded victories against all 12 NPB clubs.

“I’ve always tried my best throughout my career, and this victory tonight is a special present to myself,” Fujii said.

He took the loss in his only other appearance against Yakult — last season as a member of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters — but the Giants gave him plenty of help this time around.

Wakiya did most of the heavy lifting himself, driving in four runs with his second-inning homer.

“That was my first grand slam,” Wakiya said. “I never even hit one in elementary school or high school.”

Alex Ramirez also homered, his 10th of the year and 297th of his career.

“Fujii was pitching so well,” Wakiya said. “So it was good we gave him some run support.”

Swallows starter Yoshinori Sato (1-4) had a rough day at the office, allowing seven runs on nine hits over seven innings in the loss.

Dragons 5, Tigers 0

At Nagoya Dome, Kenta Asakura combined with four relievers on a six-hit shutout as Chunichi beat Hanshin, which slipped into second one day after going atop the standings.

Asakura (2-1) gave up five hits and struck out six while walking two in 6 1/3 innings and helped his own cause with a run-scoring single in the sixth.

Carp 3, BayStars 1

At Yokohama Stadium, Kenta Maeda held the damage to one run in seven gritty innings, Eishin Soyogi homered and Hiroshima held off the BayStars.

Soyogi’s solo shot off Stephen Randolph (0-5) put Hiroshima on the scoreboard in the first before a squeeze bunt by Masato Akamatsu in the next frame. Tetsuya Kokubo added insurance with a ninth-inning RBI single.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Marines 8, Fighters 5

At Chiba Marine Stadium, Kim Tae Kyun went 3-for-4 with a pair of homers and five RBIs as Chiba Lotte downed Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Kim hit a solo homer to right off Hirotoshi Masui (1-2) to break a 4-4 tie in the fifth inning. Tomoya Satozaki added a solo blast in the seventh and Kim a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Eagles 5, Lions 4

At Seibu Dome, Teppei Tsuchiya hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning and finished with four RBIs as Tohoku Rakuten beat Seibu for its fourth straight win.

Tsuchiya turned a 4-3 deficit into a one-run lead with his first homer of the season to the right off Taiyo Fujita (1-2). He also hit a two-run single with the bases loaded in the third.

Hawks 11, Buffaloes 4

At Skymark Stadium, Yuya Hasegawa doubled in two runs in a four-run eighth inning as Softbank pounded out a season-high 17 hits to hand Orix its fifth straight loss.

Softbank went up 8-4 on three consecutive two-out doubles.