The Central League-leading Tokyo Yakult Swallows failed to get off the ground in their start to the second half of the season, going down 6-3 to the Hiroshima Carp on Tuesday.
Hiroshima’s Giancarlo Alvarado (1-3) pitched five solid innings for his first win of the season, limiting Yakult to one earned run on six hits and a pair of walks on a forgettable night for the Swallows at Jingu Stadium.
Dennis Sarfate collected his CL-best 23rd save by pitching a scoreless ninth.
Yakult starter Masanori Ishikawa (5-5) allowed a season-worst six runs in 5⅔ innings as as the Swallows had some clumsy defending.
Masato Akamatsu was a terror for the Yakult pitching staff, going 4-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a stolen base as the Carp rapped out 15 hits and pulled within nine games of the Swallows.
Akihiro Higashide had three hits and two RBIs, while Shogo Kimura added a pair of hits and drove in two runs himself.
The visitors went to work with two outs in the second, when Tetsuya Kokubo reached on a bloop double. Akamatsu laced his first hit of the game and Kokubo came home as right fielder Wladimir Balentien fumbled the ball.
The Carp made it 2-0 in the third thanks to Yoshihiro Maru’s RBI single, and added another run the following inning when Yakult first baseman Josh Whitesell slipped while fielding Higashide’s grounder, scoring Akamatsu from second.
Hiroshima put the game out of Yakult’s reach by scoring three times in the sixth with two outs and runners on the corners. Higashide made it a 4-1 game with a hit up the middle, and Kimura drove in two more runs with a triple over a backpedaling Balentien.
BayStars 1, Giants 0
At Tokyo Dome, Kentaro Takasaki (4-7) and four Yokohama relievers combined for a six-hit shutout of Yomiuri.
Tigers 5, Dragons 3
At Koshien Stadium, Takashi Toritani hit a tiebreaking triple in the eighth to lift Hanshin over Chunichi.
Buffaloes 6, Fighters 3
At Obihiro, Hokkaido, Orix’s Chihiro Kaneko (5-1) won his 50th career game in the day’s only matinee, holding Hokkaido Nippon Ham to three runs and striking out six in six-plus innings.
Hawks 2, Eagles 1
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Softbank’s D.J. Houlton improved to 11-3 on the year, holding Tohoku Rakuten to one earned run on five hits and two walks in six-plus innings.
Lions 6, Marines 5
At Seibu Dome, Seibu held on to win its second straight against Chiba Lotte a night after ending a nine-game losing streak, as new captain Hiroyuki Nakajima went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in a six-run sixth.