Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi came within one out of his first career shutout, Wladimir Balentien blasted his Central League-leading 25th homer and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows defeated the Yomiuri Giants 3-1 to avoid a three-game sweep on Sunday.
Masubuchi (6-6) scattered five hits over eight scoreless innings but was lifted when he surrendered a solo drive to Yoshinobu Takahashi with two outs in the ninth at Tokyo Dome. Rookie Kentaro Kyuko got the final out for his first save.
“I never thought I would be able to pitch like I did today,” said Masubuchi, who is in his fifth year with the Swallows.
Asked whether he was hoping to shut out the Giants, Masubuchi said, “I wasn’t really thinking about that while I was pitching. Then I gave up that homer at the end, so I feel I still have work to do.”
Kazuhiro Hatakeyama had a leadoff double in the second and Balentien followed with a shot to left-center off Kentaro Nishimura (5-1) for a 2-0 lead. Hatakeyama added a run-scoring single in the fifth.
Masubuchi was making his first start in two weeks after struggling in his previous two appearances. After losing ace Shohei Tateyama to an injury and Yoshinori Sato falling to the Giants on the previous day, the win was more than welcome.
“We wanted to get revenge for losing the previous two games. Yoshinori told me to pay them back,” Masubuchi said.
Dragons 1, Carp 1 (10)
At Nagoya Dome, Masahiko Morino doubled in the opening run for Chunichi in the first inning before Brian Barden’s sacrifice fly tied it in the third for Hiroshima, forcing the game to eventually end in a 10-inning tie.
BayStars 1, Tigers 1 (11)
At Yokohama Stadium, Tatsuya Shimozono drew a bases-loaded walk to tie it 1-all in the seventh inning for Yokohama and neither team could render the decisive blow in an 11-inning tie.
Fighters 3, Buffaloes 2
At Sapporo Dome, Sho Nakata scored the go-ahead run from second on a wild pitch by Alfredo Figaro (6-6) in the third inning.
Eagles 7, Hawks 2
At Yahoo Dome, Tadashi Ishimine hit a tiebreaking two-run double in a four-run fourth and Takahiro Shiomi (5-7) held the Hawks to two runs in five innings.
Marines 4, Lions 3
At QVC Marine Field, Tomoya Satozaki had a game-tying RBI grounder with one out in the ninth inning and pinch hitter Shunichi Nemoto delivered a bases-loaded walk-off single off Seibu closer Kazuhisa Makita (2-7).