YOKOHAMA – Tatsuhiko Kinjo belted a sayonara home run with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift the Yokohama BayStars to a 5-4 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows at Yokohama Stadium on Wednesday.
It was Kinjo’s first homer of the year. He also broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth inning in Tuesday’s come-from-behind, 5-4 win over Yakult. This game-winner earned him a kiss from excitable skipper Kiyoshi Nakahata.
“I heard him say, ‘Thank you, thank you,’ and was told he planted one on me, but I didn’t notice at the time,” Kinjo said.
Nakahata said he didn’t expect the Swallows would be able to run away with it.
“We felt we could catch up,” he said. “This game went back and forth, and that happens in baseball. But it’s the only kind of game we seem capable of winning.”
Kinjo, who had grounded out in all four of his previous at-bats, was just looking for a fastball from Swallows right-hander Tetsuya Yamamoto (0-1).
“I had some poor at-bats,” he said. “I just wanted to get my kind of swing on the ball,” he said.
Yakult’s Kazuhiro Hatakeyama opened the scoring in the first, his two-out ground single bringing home Hiroyasu Tanaka from third against right-hander Yota Kosugi.
In the next inning, Masahiko Tanaka, acquired from the Chiba Lotte Marines in a March 25 trade, hit an RBI double and scored Yakult’s third run himself on a single by Keizo Kawashima.
The BayStars retaliated in the bottom of the third, when Swallows lefty Katsuki Akagawa loaded the bases on three one-out walks, and Kensuke Uchimura brought in Kazunari Tsuruoka with a sacrifice fly center.
Shotaro Ide beat out an infield single to send Japan home run leader Tony Blanco to the plate with the bases loaded, but Akagawa got Blanco to ground into the third out.
The home fans got the long ball they longed for but one inning too late, as Norihiro Nakamura went deep to open the bottom of the fourth with his second home run in two days.
Nakamura, who played in 17 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2005, had five hits in the big leagues, giving him 2,000 hits combined between Nippon Professional Baseball and the majors.
Blanco put the BayStars ahead in the seventh with a big two-run shot into the left-field stands on the first pitch he saw from Takehiko Oshimoto, his 16th homer of the season and his third in as many games. Shotaro Ide had kept the inning alive with a two-out single, allowing Blanco to bat.
Jorge Sosa, who joined DeNA along with Blanco this season from Chunichi, worked a scoreless eighth.
The BayStars had a chance to widen their lead in the home half of the inning, but lost two runners on base. Keijiro Matsumoto singled with one out but was picked off at first, and Swallows left fielder Lastings Milledge threw Tsuruoka out at the plate to end the inning.
The lapses proved costly in the ninth, when BayStars closer Shun Yamaguchi blew a one-run save opportunity. With two outs and a runner at third, Hatakeyama tied the game with his second RBI.
The game went to extra innings when Swallows right-hander Tetsuya Yamamoto struck out Yamaguchi to end the inning with the potential winning run on second.
Carp 5, Tigers 0
At Koshien Stadium, Hiroshima ace Kenta Maeda returned to the rotation in top form, striking out seven in seven scoreless innings in his comeback from shoulder trouble, and two relievers completed a five-hit shutout of Hanshin.
Maeda, who was deactivated on April 21 due to inflammation in his right triceps, allowed four hits without issuing a walk to improve to 3-0. Jun Hirose’s three-run double capped a four-run third inning off Hanshin lefty Daiki Enokida (2-3).
Giants 3, Dragons 0
At Nagoya Dome, Shinnosuke Abe capped a three-run eighth inning with his eighth homer of the season, a two-run shot, as league-leading Yomiuri shutout Chunichi for the second straight day.
Giants right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura (2-2) scattered five hits and three walks, while striking out seven but got no decision. Dragons catcher Motonobu Tanishige went 0-for-4 to remain four hits shy of 2,000 in his career.
Eagles 4, Fighters 1
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka (4-0) allowed a run on five hits and three walks, while striking out 10, and the Eagles came from behind to beat 2012 PL MVP Mitsuo Yoshikawa.
The Eagles tied it against Yoshikawa (3-2) on Yosuke Takasu’s RBI single in the fourth and scored three unearned runs in the sixth, when Hokkaido Nippon Ham made two errors, to move ahead. Tanaka did not allow a hit after the third inning.
Hawks 3, Lions 1
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Hayato Terahara (1-1) allowed four hits in eight innings while striking out five to beat Seibu and win at home for Softbank for the first time since the Hawks traded him away in December 2006.
Yuichi Honda tripled in the first inning and opened the scoring against Lions submarine right-hander Kazuhisa Makita (3-1) on a sacrifice fly by teammate Seiichi Uchikawa. Wily Mo Pena drove in the Hawks’ second run, and former National League All-Star Bryan LaHair completed the scoreline with his seventh homer of the season.
Marines 1, Buffaloes 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Lotte’s Daichi Suzuki tripled in the game’s only run in the seventh inning and Yuji Nishino (3-1) and two relievers combined to shut out Orix on four hits.
Takahiro Matsubara, the Buffaloes’ first-round draft pick last autumn, allowed three hits and two walks over six innings but got no decision. Orix’s second pitcher, Mamoru Kishida (0-1) surrendered a leadoff single to Katsuya Kakunaka and Suzuki’s one-out triple to suffer the loss.