Hisayoshi Chono gave the Hiroshima Carp and pitcher Keisuke Imai an early warning that Thursday just wasn’t going to be their night.
By the end of the game, the message had gotten through loud and clear.
Chono homered in his first two trips to the plate, and hit a two-run single his final time up to lead the Yomiuri Giants to a 6-2 win over the Carp in front of a crowd of 46,831 at Tokyo Dome.
“It was a great night for me and I’d like to thank the Giants fans for their support and encouragement,” Chono said.
Chono sent the very first pitch of the bottom half of the first into the right field stands, before homering to left in the second.
“Anytime our leadoff man hits the first pitch for a home run, it gives us a lift and sets the scene for a winning game,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said.
Chono now has 11 home runs this season and went deep in consecutive at-bats for the first time in his career.
“Getting the timely hit in the eighth was better than the two home runs, because it pretty much put away the game for us,” Chono said.
Chono, who singled in his third at-bat, finished 4-for-5 with four RBIs.
Chono may have stolen the spotlight, but Thursday was Shinnosuke Abe Player’s Day at the Big Egg, and the Giants captain celebrated with a two-run double in the first and finished the game 2-for-3.
The offense helped starter Hirokazu Sawamura pick up his third straight victory, which got his record to .500.
“I would like to keep the streak going and finish the season with a good record,” the second-year pitcher said.
Sawamura (7-7) pitched six innings of one-run ball, allowed seven hits, struck out eight and walked two.
“He pitched OK tonight, though a lot of his pitches were high,” Hara said. “But he had enough and our bullpen came through as usual. It was a good win.”
Imai (1-2) lasted just 3 2/3 innings and was charged with four runs on six hits.
Carp outfielder Soichiro Amaya finished with three hits, including a solo home run that just got over the wall in right, and Eishin Soyogi had a two-hit night for the Carp.
Shota Dobayashi, voted by the fans into the final spot on the Central League All-Star team as announced on Wednesday, also drove in a run for Hiroshima.
The Carp finished with 10 hits, but ended innings with runners in scoring position on four occasions.
Yomiuri, first in the CL standings, now hits the road for a three-game series against the second-place Chunichi Dragons at Nagoya Dome.
“We start a big series tomorrow night against the Dragons and hope to win there,” Chono said.
Tigers beat Dragons
Hanshin’s Takashi Toritani drove in two runs, including the first of the game, and Ryota Arai’s two-out RBI double made it 2-0 in the fourth as the Tigers defeated the Chunichi Dragons 4-1 on Thursday.
Randy Messenger (5-8) tossed seven shutout innings for the hosts.
Chunichi southpaw Masahiro Yamamoto (2-2) allowed four runs in five innings in the 46-year-old’s first start since May 27.
BayStars 6, Swallows 6 (9)
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, 38-year-old Norihiro Nakamura’s two-out, ninth-inning RBI double evened the score as Yokohama came from behind in its last at-bat to salvage a draw against Yakult.
BayStars catcher Kazunari Tsuruoka, a 17-year veteran, gave the visitors a 4-0 lead in the second with his first career grand slam, and Yokohama scored in the ninth after Swallows closer Tony Barnette retired the first two batters.
Fighters 7, Marines 2
At Sapporo Dome, one night after the Pacific League’s top two teams failed to score through 12 innings, Hokkaido Nippon Ham turned on the power against league-leading Chiba Lotte.
Southpaw Tomoya Yagi (5-2) allowed two runs in eight innings and the Fighters hit four home runs en route to trimming the Marines’ lead to three games.
Atsunori Inaba kicked off the festivities with a three-run first-inning homer off submarine right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe (4-3). It was the left-handed hitter’s first homer since May 25.
“Last night, I ruined a scoring opportunity in the first inning and another one late in the game, so I was eager to do something positive from the start tonight,” Inaba said of his seventh homer of the year.
The Fighters delivered a four-run knockout blow in the fifth, when Sho Nakata, Inaba and Yang Dai-kang knocked three over the wall in succession. Nakata’s was his 10th homer of the season, and plated Yoshio Itoi, who went 3-for-3 with a walk and scored twice.
All-Star catcher Tomoya Satozaki plated both of the Marines’ runs.
Yagi scattered eight hits, two walks and a hit batsman, while striking out three.
Watanabe lasted just 4 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and two walks.
Lions 2, Hawks 0
At Seibu Dome, 22-year-old Shota Takekuma threw no-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings and two Seibu relievers preserved the one-hit shutout over Fukuoka Softbank for the lefty’s first win in two years.
Takekuma (1-0) outdueled Shota Oba (2-3), who allowed two runs — one earned — on three hits over eight innings for a complete game defeat. The Hawks have scored seven runs in Oba’s five starts this season.
Buffaloes at Eagles — ppd.