Craig Brazell certainly earned the right to share the stage with teammate Yuya Ando, he just didn’t feel up to it.
Brazell homered in consecutive at-bats against Masanori Ishikawa to back a solid performance by Ando in the Hanshin Tigers’ 3-1 victory over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Thursday night at Jingu Stadium.
Brazell was called upon to participate in the postgame hero interview, but instead said Tigers fans should direct their cheers toward Ando, who won for the first time since 2010. Predictably, the Hanshin fans erupted in support of the gesture.
“It’s all about Ando today,” Brazell said. “He’s worked too hard to come back. Let him enjoy this. He’s got a couple of days to rest then he’ll come out and do it again.”
Ando (1-0) threw seven scoreless innings, giving up six hits while striking out three and walking one. The Tigers starter had made just one appearance with the top team last season as he battled through injuries.
“I’m just really thankful tonight,” Ando said.
Brazell was the first Tigers player to record a hit against Ishikawa, taking the right-hander deep to right in the fifth inning. He victimized Ishikawa again in the seventh, this time with Yamato Maeda on second, to put Hanshin ahead 3-0.
“I was just relaxed, that was a big thing,” Brazell said. “In the first at-bat (in the second inning) I told myself I gotta get some pitches up in the zone. I even swung at some bad ones in my second at-bat. Then he made a mistake, hung me a slider, two strikes . . . The second was the same, sinker or something up and in and I put another good swing on it.”
Brazell had a pivotal homer against Yakult the previous night as well. He took Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi deep in that one, powering a three-run rally in the eighth with a two-run blast that helped Hanshin salvage a 5-5 tie.
In five games this season, Brazell has three home runs and five RBIs, all against Yakult.
“I just gotta keep doing what I’m doing,” Brazell said. “Tonight’s over. Enjoy it for a few minutes and go get them tomorrow.”
Maeda was the only other Hanshin batter to record a hit.
Swallows veteran Shinya Miyamoto finished hitless in four at-bats, leaving him stuck on 1,983 career hits. Wladimir Balentien finished with a home run among his three hits and Shingo Kawabata went 2-for-4.
Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa gave up Balentien’s home run in the ninth, but eventually nailed down the save.
Ishikawa (1-1) was the loser after giving up three runs on three hits, striking out four and walking one over seven innings. He pitched well with the exception of his last two duels with Brazell.
“It doesn’t matter if you pitch well if you don’t win,” Ishikawa said. “I gave up two home runs, one on a slider and one on a sinker. They decided the game.”
Carp blank Giants
Jumpei Shinoda and two relievers combined on an eight-hit shutout as the Hiroshima Carp completed a three-game sweep of the Yomiuri Giants with a 2-0 win Thursday.
Shinoda (1-0) scattered six hits and walked one over seven innings before Kam Mickolio worked the eighth and Dennis Sarfate finished for his first save of the season at Mazda Stadium.
Hiroshima took a 1-0 lead in the third when Tsubasa Aizawa scored from third on a wild pitch by Tetsuya Utsumi (0-2).
Eishin Soyogi drove in an insurance run in the eighth with a two-out triple.
Yomiuri has already been shut out three times this season.
Dragons 3, BayStars 0
At Yokohama Stadium, Masahiko Morino belted a two-run homer in the sixth and Soma Yamauchi (1-0) threw seven scoreless innings as Chunichi blanked DeNA to remain unbeaten after the first five games.
Kazuhiro Wada added an RBI single in the eighth. DeNA never got a runner to third base. Shogo Yamamoto (0-1) took the loss.
Hawks 7, Eagles 6
At Kleenex Stadium, Yuichi Honda and Seiichi Uchikawa each went 3-for-4 with two RBIs as Fukuoka Softbank edged Tohoku Rakuten to avoid a three-game sweep.
Honda and Uchikawa had RBI singles in a four-run sixth inning that extended Softbank’s lead to 7-2. Rakuten answered right back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the Softbank bullpen ended the home team’s rally there.
Former Florida Marlins left-hander Renyel Pinto (1-0) allowed two runs and four hits in five innings for Softbank in his first start in Japan. Brian Falkenborg pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his third save of the season. Keiji Uezono (0-1) took the loss.
Fighters 3, Buffaloes 1
At Sapporo Dome, Yoshio Itoi doubled in two runs in the first inning as Hokkaido Nippon Ham beat Orix to snap a three-game losing streak.
Sho Nakata hit a solo home run in the eighth. Brian Wolfe (1-0) threw six innings of one-run ball.