At 35 years old, Yoshinobu Takahashi knows he can’t race around the bases the way he used to for the Yomiuri Giants.
Besides, home-run trots are much easier on the knees.
Takahashi homered twice in the same game for the first time in two years to help the Giants defeat the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 5-2 in front of a crowd of 45,139 on Thursday at Tokyo Dome.
“Well, I didn’t play much last year, so it feels good when I have a good game like this,” Takahashi said.
Takahashi missed all but one game of the 2009 season, but gave his comeback campaign a big boost while filling in for Michihiro Ogasawara in the 3-hole in the batting order.
“Our team is loaded with players who can hit anywhere in the lineup,” Takahashi said. “I’m just happy to be playing.”
Yomiuri’s Hisayoshi Chono also drove in a pair of runs and Shinnosuke Abe chipped in with an RBI single to help the Giants improve to 6-6 in interleague play. The two-time defending interleague champion Hawks fell to 5-6.
“Our next step is to get over .500 and finish the interleague schedule with a winning record,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said.
Hawks first baseman Satoru Morimoto drove in a run and was one of the lone bright spots for the Hawks, who fizzled one night removed from a 10-2 win over the Giants.
Yomiuri pitcher Shugo Fujii (4-1) won a battle of left-handers, allowing three hits and striking out six over seven innings of one-run ball. Fujii has won his last four decisions.
“I hope to keep the streak going and win as many games as I can this season,” Fujii said.
Softbank’s Shinsuke Ogura (2-2) took the loss after giving up all five Yomiuri runs on eight hits in five innings.
Abe gave Fujii a helping hand behind the plate, throwing out two Hawks trying to steal second.
He was also responsible for the game’s first run, driving in Hayato Sakamoto from third with a high-bouncing chopper over the first baseman in the first inning.
Chono followed with a single that drove in two more runs to give the Giants an early 3-0 lead.
The Hawks got on the board in the third on Morimoto’s RBI single.
Takahashi hit the first of his two homers in the third, then went deep again in the fifth to make the score 5-1.
“Takahashi is doing a great job filling in for Ogasawara as our No. 3 hitter,” Hara said.
The Hawks put a run on the board in the ninth against reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi, but failed to muster any more offense.
Wakui snares Tigers
NISHINOMIYA , Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Hideaki Wakui limited the damage to a solo homer by Craig Brazell over eight innings, Hiroyuki Nakajima went 2-for-5 with two RBIs and the Seibu Lions beat the Hanshin Tigers 6-1 for their third win in a row on Thursday.
Carp 3, Marines 0
At Mazda Stadium, Kenta Maeda picked up his Central League-leading eighth win with eight shutout innings and Akihiro Higashide went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of stolen bases as Hiroshima blanked Chiba Lotte.
Buffaloes 4, BayStars 1
Fighters 9, Dragons 5
Eagles at Swallows — late