FUKUOKA — When Shinnosuke Abe gets on a roll it doesn’t matter who’s on the mound.
The Yomiuri Giants captain drove in a pair of runs and the Central League pitching staff put on a show as the CL edged its Pacific League rivals 4-1 in the first game of the 2010 All-Star Series on Friday.
“The All-Star Game is played for the fans,” Central League manager Tatsunori Hara said. “So we hope we gave them their money’s worth tonight.”
The Central League won for the ninth time in the last 11 All-Star Series games. The victory gives the CL a small measure of revenge after going just 59-81-4 against the PL during interleague competition.
“It’s only one game and an exhibition, but our pride is on the line,” Hara said.
“It’s always important to win.”
Abe helped lead the way, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. The Yomiuri star was named the game’s MVP after driving in the first run of the night against Fukuoka Softbank Hawks hurler Tsuyoshi Wada in the second inning and knocking in another off Hokkaido Nippon Ham ace Yu Darvish in the fourth.
“Wada and Darvish really are good pitchers, so I’m happy,” Abe said. “Darvish was throwing well, and his pitches were hitting the corners. So I knew I had to concentrate and go after a good pitch in order to get a hit and drive in the run.”
Chunichi Dragons infielder Masahiko Morino picked up the award for best batter, finishing 4-for-5 with an RBI, and CL starter Kenta Maeda was named the game’s best pitcher.
Hiroshima Carp second baseman Akihiro Higashide also drove in a run for the CL, while Yomiuri’s Michihiro Ogasawara had a 2-for-4 night at the plate.
Veteran Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles slugger Takeshi Yamasaki homered against Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase to lead off the eighth and get the PL All-Stars on the board.
“I knew right away it was a home run,” Yamasaki said. “Because this is an All-Star Game, Iwase came with fastballs. That’s why I was able to hit it.”
Pitching played a major role in the outcome of the contest. Although, instead of the pitching-rich PL, lead by Wada and Darvish, it was the CL contingent who got the job done.
Hiroshima star Maeda got the start and the win, tossing two scoreless innings. He was followed by the Giants’ Tetsuya Utsumi, Hanshin Tigers pitcher Yasutomo Kubo, Yokohama BayStars closer Shun Yamaguchi, Yomiuri’s Daisuke Ochi, Iwase and Hanshin Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa as the CL hurlers combined to allow one run on four hits.
Wada took the loss for the PL.
Darvish used the night to tinker with a breaking ball, which he used frequently throughout his two-inning outing.
“I threw it a lot and it was working well,” Darvish said after allowing one unearned run on two hits.
“I was just high with it. I need to work on controlling it better.”
The two squads meet in the final game of the series on Saturday at Hard Off Eco Stadium in Niigata. The expected starters are Yomiuri right-hander Shun Tono, for the CL and Hawks lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.