Shuichi Murata hit a two-run homer and singled in the tie-breaking run on Wednesday as the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants beat the second-place Hanshin Tigers 5-3.
With the game tied 3-3 in the fifth, Giants reliever Takahiro Aoki (5-0) inherited a two-on, two-out situation and retired Matt Murton with the bases loaded for the final out. The Giants took the lead in the bottom of the inning on Murata’s single and an RBI ground out.
Scott Mathieson then bailed Aoki out of trouble in the sixth. With two out and two on, Mathieson hit the first batter he faced, but struck out Tsuyoshi Nishioka on nine pitches to end the Tigers’ final threat of the game. After seven straight fastballs from the hard-throwing right-hander, Nishioka fouled off a forkball before swinging and missing at a slider.
“He was a little bit late on it (the fastball), so I mixed in a forkball and a slider, and I was able to get him on the slider,” Mathieson said.
Kentaro Nishimura worked a scoreless ninth to earn his 32nd save.
Hanshin lefty Daiki Enokida (4-7) allowed all five Giants runs in 4⅓ innings to suffer the loss. The Tigers got homers from a pair of former Chicago Cubs. Matt Murton hit a solo shot in the second, and Kosuke Fukudome tied it with a three-run homer in the fourth off Giants starter Ryosuke Miyaguni.
BayStars 2, Carp 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yokohama snapped a three-game losing streak as five pitchers combined on a six-hit shutout of Hiroshima. Kota Suda (3-2) gave up four hits and a walk over five innings to earn the win.
The BayStars had all four of their hits in the fourth inning, when CL RBI leader Tony Blanco broke the ice with an RBI single and Norihiro Nakamura followed with a sacrifice fly.
Dragons 11, Swallows 7
At Jingu Stadium, Matt Clark homered twice, had an RBI single and drove in five runs as Chunichi whipped Tokyo Yakult. Masahiro Yamamoto (4-2) allowed four runs in five innings and the 48-year-old extended his record as the oldest starting pitcher to win a game.
The Swallows’ Wladimir Balentien set a record for home runs in a month with his 17th in August, a solo shot in the ninth that was his 51st of the season. He is four away from tying Japan’s single-season record.
Eagles 2, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Andruw Jones homered to tie it in the fourth inning, and Ginji Akaminai singled home the tie-breaking run in the sixth as league-leading Tohoku Rakuten defeated Orix.
Manabu Mima (5-4) allowed a run in six innings to earn his first win since May 9, while former big leaguer Takashi Saito earned his second save. Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (10-8) allowed two runs over the distance to suffer the loss.
Marines 3, Hawks 2
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Craig Brazell and Takashi Ogino hit back-to-back RBI singles in the fourth, and Tomoya Satozaki added a solo homer as second-place Chiba Lotte held off Fukuoka Softbank.
Yuki Karakawa (8-8) allowed two runs on five hits and a walk over 6⅔ innings to collect the win, while Naoya Masuda earned his PL-best 29th save.
Lions 2, Fighters 1
At Sapporo Dome, Takumi Kuriyama singled home a run in the third and Ginjiro Sumitani homered in the fifth to lead Seibu past Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Ken Togame (7-8) allowed just a run in six innings despite allowing six hits and five walks. Rookie pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani went 2-for-3 for the Fighters with his first career triple.