NAGOYA – Wladimir Balentien got back into the chase for Japan’s single-season home run record and rookie Yasuhiro Ogawa (13-4) took over the Central League lead in wins as the Yakult Swallows defeated the Chunichi Dragons 5-1.
Balentien singled in the opening run in the fourth inning and hit his 53rd home run, a solo shot to lead off the sixth. He is now two away from Japan’s record of 55 with 24 games left to play. Balentien went 3-for-5 to raise his CL-leading batting average to .341. He is second in the league with 114 RBIs.
After hitting a record 18 home runs in August, the blast was Balentien’s first in five games this month.
Ogawa went the distance, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out three. He started the day tied with Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda for the league lead in wins.
“This is not the finish line,” said Ogawa, whose last win came on Aug. 3. “At the end I want to be in the thick of the fight for the wins title.”
Yasushi Iihara iced the game for the last-place Swallows with a three-run triple in the seventh.
Giants 9, Tigers 6
At Koshien Stadium, league-leading Yomiuri scored all nine of its runs in the sixth inning, in which Tetsuya Matsumoto’s two-run double overturned a 1-0 deficit. Rookie Tomoyuki Sugano (12-4) allowed a run in seven innings before Hanshin mounted a five-run, ninth-inning rally.
The Giants, who moved 10 games clear of the second-place Tigers, hit three home runs in the sixth, starting with Yoshinobu Takahashi’s three-run, pinch-hit blast.
BayStars 10, Carp 1
At Yokohama Stadium, DeNA moved into a tie for fourth with Chunichi as Takayuki Kajitani and Kejiro Matsumoto each homered and drove in three runs against Hiroshima. Kota Suda (5-2) allowed a run in seven innings to earn the win.
BayStars cleanup hitter Tony Blanco broke the ice with an RBI single in the first and drove in his second run with his 36th homer of the year, a leadoff shot in the seventh.
Eagles 3, 1
At Kleenex Stadium, Andruw Jones’ solo homer opened the scoring in the second, and Motohiro Shima added a solo shot in the eighth as Rakuten completed a three-game sweep of Nippon Ham.
Rookie right-hander Takahiro Norimoto (13-7) allowed a run in 7-2/3 innings as the Eagles moved increased their PL lead to 6-1/2 games over the Lotte Marines, who were rained out.
Buffaloes 3, Hawks 1
At Kyocera Dome, Brandon Dickson (6-7) worked seven innings and two relievers completed a six-hit shutout as Orix avoided being swept in three games after suffering back-to-back shutout defeats to Softbank. The Buffaloes managed just three hits.
Hawks right-hander Shingo Tatsumi (0-1) gave away a run in the second, on two walks, a hit batsman and a wild pitch. The Buffaloes’ Yoshio Itoi singled in a run in the third and homered in the sixth.