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Victorious Giants make Tigers pay for miscues

by Jason Coskrey

Ryota Wakiya taught Hanshin Tigers rookie Takumi Akiyama one of the most important lessons a pitcher can learn.

Mistakes against the Yomiuri Giants are going to cost you.

Wakiya hit a come-from-behind two-run triple in the sixth inning, and the Giants torched the Hanshin bullpen during a four-run seventh in an 8-3 win on Saturday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.

“I wanted to make the most of the chance,” Wakiya said. “I thought I would swing at the first strike. It was a curve over the plate and I hit it well.”

The triple was Wakiya’s eighth of the season. He entered the game tied for the league lead with Hiroshima Carp second baseman Akihiro Higashide, who was scheduled to play later in the day.

“I’m not thinking about hitting triples,” Wakiya said. “It just happens.”

Akiyama (0-1), Hanshin’s fourth-round choice in the 2009 draft, was effective with his off-speed pitches early on, and — despite allowing a couple of runs in the second inning — was in line to become Hanshin’s first rookie starter to debut with a win over the Giants.

Akiyama entered the sixth with a 3-2 lead, but as his pitch count neared 100, the Giants broke through. Akiyama walked Shinnosuke Abe and yielded a single to Hisayoshi Chono before Wakiya sent his 110th pitch of the game to the wall in right.

Akiyama lasted six innings, allowing four runs on six hits, striking out five and walking three.

“The Tigers starter pitched well,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “He didn’t pitch like a rookie.”

The win pulls the Giants to within a game of the first-place Tigers in the Central League standings and is their second straight. The Giants will still trail the Tigers on percentage points should they complete the sweep on Sunday in the series finale.

“We haven’t regained first place yet, so we can’t let up,” Abe said. “We can’t relax until we’re back on top.”

With his team ahead 5-3, Abe put the game on ice with a three-run home run in the seventh. He finished 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

“I put a perfect swing on it,” Abe said of his 37th homer of the season.

Yomiuri slugger Alex Ramirez drove in his 97th run of the year with a single in the seventh, inching closer to his eighth consecutive 100-RBI campaign. Giants reliever Yasunari Takagi (1-0) worked one scoreless inning of relief for the win, his first with the Giants.

“We were only one run behind,” said Takagi, who entered the game in the sixth with the Giants behind 3-2. “So I thought I might have a chance to win if I pitched well.

“I pitched with the idea of keeping the Tigers from adding to their lead.”

Starter Satoshi Fukuda gave up three runs on five hits and didn’t factor into the decision.

Hanshin lost its second consecutive game, after entering the series on a five-game winning streak. Tomoaki Kanemoto and Matt Murton homered for the Tigers and Craig Brazell singled in a run.

Dragons beat Yakult

NAGOYA (Kyodo) Tony Blanco hit a game-tying two-run homer in the second inning and Kohei Oda drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the same inning as the Chunichi Dragons edged the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3-2 on Saturday.

Veteran lefty Masahiro Yamamoto (2-0) allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Chunichi closer Hitoki Iwase earned his Nippon Professional Baseball-leading 33rd save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Yakult’s Masato Nakazawa (7-7) took the loss.

Carp 5, BayStars 4

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Tomonori Maeda delivered a pinch-hit two-run single in a four-run sixth inning as Hiroshima beat Yokohama to halt a three-game losing streak.

Giancarlo Alvarado (5-6) allowed one run in six innings.

Ryuji Yokoyama pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

BayStars hurler Atori Ota, who fell to 0-2, was charged with four runs in five-plus innings.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 5, Lions 4

At Sapporo Dome, Sho Nakata broke a 4-4 tie with a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning as Hokkaido Nippon Ham downed Seibu.

Ryo Sakakibara (6-1) won in relief. Hisashi Takeda picked up his 11th save. The Lions’ Hideaki Wakui (13-7) gave up five runs in eight innings.

Hawks 13, Eagles 1

At Kleenex Stadium, Toshiya Sugiuchi pitched eight innings of one-run ball as Fukuoka Softbank handed Tohoku Rakuten its third consecutive loss.

Sugiuchi (15-5) became the first 15-game winner in Japan this season, holding the Eagles to five hits and striking out nine. Roberto Petagine hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the fourth.

Hiroki Kokubo and Nobuhiro Matsuda homered for the Hawks.

Kohei Hasebe (3-4) was tagged for seven runs in four-plus innings.

Mariners 7, Buffaloes 6 (11)