HIROSHIMA – Brad Eldred delivered a clutch two-out, two-run single as the Hiroshima Carp came from behind and made a winner out of comeback kid Takaya Kawauchi.
Trailing by a run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Eldred chopped a pitch into left field and the Carp went on to beat their nearest playoff rivals, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, 4-2 at Mazda Stadium.
Kawauchi (1-0) entered with two outs and a man on in the seventh and retired all four batters he faced to earn his first win in eight seasons. The Carp’s No. 1 draft pick in 1999 was released after the 2009 season but stayed in baseball the next two years on a development contract with the Carp, who re-signed him on May 18.
“To be the winning pitcher in front of so many fans is something I never imagined,” said the lefty, who was appearing in his 16th game since being recalled from the wilderness. “Whatever situation I am in, I just want to give it my all.”
“Words can’t really describe how I feel, except perhaps that this is the greatest,” he said.
Eldred’s hit made a loser out of right-hander Orlando Roman (7-8), who was attempting to win his fourth straight complete game for the Swallows. He allowed four runs in 7⅔ innings.
“Obviously, I was excited,” said Eldred, who has driven in 17 runs in 24 games since his Hiroshima debut on July 10. “I didn’t hit it that well. It was hard enough to get through, and it was weak enough to get both guys home.
“That’s what I came here for. I came to play, to play hard.”
Hiroshima right-hander Kan Otake kept the Carp in the game, allowing one run in six innings. His defense bailed him out in the first, when Carp left fielder Yoshihiro Maru gunned down a runner at the plate.
The Carp’s Kam Mickolio faced just three batters in the ninth to record his 16th save and increase the gap between third-place Hiroshima and fourth-place Yakult to 2½ games.
Eagles 1, Fighters 0
At Kleenex Stadium, 18-year-old Tohoku Rakuten rookie Yoshinao Kamata (5-1) won his second straight start with his first career shutout, a five-hitter over Pacific League-leading Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Shintaro Masuda and Jose Fernandez each had two of the Eagles’ five singles, with Masuda plating Fernandez in the seventh off Brian Wolfe (6-9). Kamata had to pitch out of a two-on jam in the top of the ninth but struck out Taiwan All-Star Yang Dai-kang on a 3-2 pitch to end it.
BayStars 4, Tigers 4
Dragons 1, Giants 0
Buffaloes 4, Lions 4
Hawks 3, Marines 2