Shinnosuke Abe was on fire from the time he stepped in the batter’s box, and it was going to take a lot more than the Yokohama BayStars could muster to cool him off.
Abe homered and drove in five runs, Alex Ramirez hit a two-run shot, and Hisayoshi Chono also went deep as the Yomiuri Giants knocked around the BayStars in a 8-2 win to avoid a series sweep on Thursday at Tokyo Dome.
“It’s good we got this win after losing the first two games of the series,” Abe said. “There are not many games remaining, and we have to win as many as we can.”
Abe singled in a run in his first plate appearance and hit a two-run homer the next time up. The Yomiuri captain drove in two more runs with a single in the sixth. Abe finished 3-for-4.
The homer was Abe’s 18th of the year, and the five RBIs were his most since Aug. 19, 2007, when he drove in five runs against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
“I’m tired after this game,” Abe said. “But it feels good to get the five RBIs and the victory.”
Ramirez’s blast, his 19th of the year, came in the first inning.
Second-year star Chono went 2-for-4 and drove in a run with his 15th homer of the season. Chono is in a tight battle with Hanshin Tigers outfielder Matt Murton for the Central League batting title. Murton holds a slight edge, .318 to .316, after Thursday’s games.
Giants starter Shun Tono had to overcome one bad inning, but the run support made his night easier. Tono (8-11) allowed a pair of runs on two hits. He struck out seven and walked five.
The BayStars thought they’d gotten to Tono in the fourth when Kenjiro Matsumoto sent a ball hurtling toward the right-field stands. The ball caromed off the top of the wall and bounced back into the field as the first-base umpire signaled home run.
That brought Giants manager Tatsunori Hara out of the dugout to plead his case that Matsumoto’s hit wasn’t a home run. The umpires conferred with each other, then checked the instant replay, ultimately reversing the call and putting Matsumoto on second with a double.
No video review was needed for the next batter, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who launched a ball into the left-field seats for a two-run homer. Tono got out of the inning with no further damage done.
Yokohama’s Shigeru Kaga (4-2) took the loss, allowing five runs on five hits.
The Giants will now travel to Nagoya Dome for a three-game series against the league-leading Chunichi Dragons. The third-place Giants trail the Dragons by 5½ games in the standings.
“We’ll go into the Dragons series as a challenger,” Hara said. “We have six games remaining against Chunichi, and it should be an exciting end to the season.”
Dragons hold off Carp
Masahiro Araki drove in three runs and Maximo Nelson came within three outs of his first shutout of the season as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Hiroshima Carp 5-3 on Thursday to claim the lead in the Central League.
Tigers 7, Swallows 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Craig Brazell homered twice and Randy Messenger (12-5) pitched seven innings of one-run ball as Hanshin completed a three-game sweep of slumping Yakult, which has lost five of its last six games
Fighters 2, Eagles 0
At Sapporo Dome, rookie Yuki Saito and two relievers combined on a five-hit shutout as Hokkaido Nippon Ham downed Tohoku Rakuten.
Lions 2, Buffaloes 1
At Seibu Dome, pinch hitter Hiroshi Hirao hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to drive in the winning run in the ninth inning as Seibu edged Orix.
Hawks 4, Marines 0
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Tsuyoshi Wada (15-5) limited Chiba Lotte to one infield single in seven innings of work as PL champion Fukuoka Softbank extended its winning streak to five games.