It took the Tokyo Yakult Swallows a little while to get going in their first game after the interleague break.
No such worries the second time around.
Shinya Miyamoto drove in the first run, Kazuhiro Hatekeyama finished with three hits and an RBI, and the Swallows beat the Yokohama BayStars 4-1 on Saturday afternoon at Jingu Stadium.
Miyamoto broke a scoreless tie in the third inning with an RBI single and the Swallows never looked back.
“Yesterday was a low scoring game,” Miyamoto said referring to Yakult’s 2-1 win in 10 innings on Friday night. “So I thought that could possibly be our last chance. I felt it would be bad if we wasted it.”
The first-place Swallows beat the BayStars for the second straight day and are 6-1-1 against the Central League cellar dwellers this season.
The Birds needed a walk-off homer from Josh Whitesell to turn back the BayStars in the first game of their series. This time it was a 12-hit attack that helped Yakult pickup the win.
Hatekeyama led the way, going 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Whitesell drove in a run on a 2-for-3 afternoon and Miyamoto had a pair of hits and an RBI. Shingo Kawabata drove in the team’s other run.
Norichika Aoki also pitched in, finishing 2-for-3 with a walk.
The run support helped make a winner out of starter Masanori Ishikawa (5-4) who threw six innings of one-run ball.
“(Shohei) Tateyama-san pitched so well yesterday,” Ishikawa said, referring to Tateyama’s start in the previous game. “That made me want to go out and do my best.”
Ishikawa struck out five, walked one and allowed seven hits.
“He put us in a position to win today,” Miyamoto said.
The news wasn’t all good for the home team.
Whitesell went to the ground in pain while fielding Takehiro Ishikawa’s sacrifice bunt in the fifth inning. Whitesell appeared to be clutching his left leg and was forced to leave the game.
“He’ll probably be all right,” Swallows manager Junji Ogawa said afterward.
Yokohama’s offense sputtered for the second straight game. Veteran Norihiro Nakamura led the team with a pair of hits and Hichori Morimoto knocked in a run.
Shogo Yamamoto’s dismal season continued with 3⅓ ineffective innings in the loss. Yamamoto (2-9) allowed four runs on eight hits and walked three batters.
The two teams will play the final game of their series on Sunday at Jingu Stadium.
Tigers beat Utsumi
Nishinomiya Hyogo Pref. KYODO
Craig Brazell hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the fourth inning as the Hanshin Tigers defeated the Yomiuri Giants 4-2 on Saturday in Central League action, denying lefty Tetsuya Utsumi what would have been his Japanese baseball-leading 10th win.
Randy Messenger (4-1) allowed two runs in 5⅔ innings for the win. Utsumi (9-2) took his first loss since April 27.
Dragons 7, Carp 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Masahiro Araki hit a two-run triple and Joel Guzman added a three-run blast as Chunichi scored six runs in the seventh inning to down Hiroshima.
Kazuki Yoshimi (6-2) held the Carp to one run in eight innings. Hiroshima ace and 2010 Sawamura Award winner Kenta Maeda (3-5) gave up four runs in 6⅓ innings.
Eagles 9, Lions 1
At Seibu Dome, Masahiro Tanaka won his fourth straight start with eight dominant innings, Randy Ruiz homered and drove in three runs and Tohoku Rakuten trounced Seibu.
Tanaka (7-2) struck out 12 and allowed one run on three hits without a walk, easily outpitching Lions ace Hideaki Wakui (4-5).
The Eagles moved out of last place.
Tanaka had a shutout until Takeya Nakamura hit his PL-leading 15th home run in the seventh. The 22-year-old right-hander struck out at least one batter each inning.
Teppei Tsuchiya went 3-for-5 with an RBI and backup infielder Kensuke Uchimura had a pair of run-scoring singles for Rakuten.
Fighters 3, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Yoshio Itoi hit a two-run double in the third inning as Hokkaido Nippon Ham beat Fukuoka Softbank to pull within one game of the PL-leading Hawks.
Masaru Takeda (5-5) allowed one run in five innings for the win.
The Hawks’ Toshiya Sugiuchi (4-3) was charged with three runs in seven innings.
Hisashi Takeda picked up his PL-leading 18th save with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Buffaloes 4, Marines 3
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field Keiji Obiki drove in a pair of runs and Kazuki Kondo (1-0) threw 5⅓ effective innings in his first start of the season, leading Orix past Chiba Lotte.