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Nakamura named MVP of All-Star opener

Kyodo

The Central League defeated the Pacific League 4-1 on Friday in Game 1 of the NPB All-Star Series.

In the second inning, Yokohama BayStars infielder Norihiro Nakamura hit a two-run homer at Kyocera Dome, his home park during his days with the Kintetsu Buffaloes, to win the game’s MVP award.

“I’m glad I could show (my old fans) that I’m still going strong,” the 38-year-old said.

With one out, Nakamura blasted a ball off Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter right-hander Yuki Saito into the second deck in left field, scoring Toyo Yakult’s Wladimir Balentien, who drove in the CL’s other two runs.

The homer overturned the PL’s early lead, which came when the Fighters’ Taiwan international Yang Dai-kang became the first All-Star debutant in 44 years to hit a first-inning leadoff homer.

“It’s my first experience to play baseball in a situation like this,” said Yang, who along with Balentien won one of the game’s prizes for outstanding performance.

Six CL pitchers, however, combined to hold the PL squad to just four hits. Yang, who doubled in the ninth, went 2-for-4.

The CL victory reduced the PL’s lead in the summer series to 77-72. Game 2 will be at Matsuyama “Botchan” Stadium on Saturday. The series wraps up on Monday in Morioka at Iwate Stadium.