YOKOHAMA – Jose Lopez continued his spring power surge with a 10th-inning solo homer as the Yomiuri Giants spoiled the Yokohama BayStars’ home opener on Tuesday with a 2-1, 10-inning victory at Yokohama Stadium.
The homer was Lopez’s third of the new season and gave him 11 RBIs in four games. With two outs and a 3-2 count against BayStars reliever Shuichiro Osada (0-1), Lopez blasted the tie-breaking shot into the left-field stands and just fair.
“I tried to have a big swing with two outs in extra innings,” Lopez, a former regular with the Seattle Mariners. “I tried to hit a home run in my at-bat before, too. Before I get to home plate, I think to hit a home run, but once I get to the plate, I try to get a good swing.
“I try to remember each pitcher from last year, and when I do, I try to look for my pitch. I keep all that in my head. It’s my job. I try to forget my errors, but I always keep them in my mind.”
Giants southpaw Tetsuya Utsumi allowed just a hit and a walk through the first six innings, but Yokohama tied it against him in the seventh on Aarom Baldiris’ RBI single, the hosts’ fourth hit of the inning. He allowed a run in eight innings on five hits and a walk. The lefty struck out six.
Right-hander Yasutomo Kubo, who joined the BayStars as a free agent over the winter, allowed a first-inning run, but left after seven frames with the score tied. Kubo gave up just the one run despite allowing six hits, three walks and hitting a batter. He struck out five.
The Giants opened the scoring in textbook fashion. Hisayoshi Chono bounced a single up the middle, was sacrificed to second and scored easily on Leslie Anderson’s one-out single.
The BayStars got even in the seventh after Tony Blanco doubled with one out to get things started against Utsumi. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo lined a single to center to put runners on the corners, and Baldiris, who had harshly been charged with an error in the top of the inning, smashed a grounder into left to plate Blanco and tie the game.
The Giants had threatened in the top of the seventh after Baldiris took a hard smash off his right hand as the leadoff man reached. A double by Hirokazu Ibata put runners on second and third with two outs, but Kubo retired Anderson on a pop fly to Blanco at first base.
Shun Yamaguchi sent down the heart of the Giants order in the eighth, and Jorge Sosa got out of a jam in the top of the ninth to keep the game tied. The Giants finally went to their bullpen in the bottom of the ninth, when Scott Mathieson (1-1) worked a 1-2-3 inning and earned the win. Kentaro Nishimura allowed three runners to reach in the ninth but recorded his first save of the season.
Carp 7, Swallows 4
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yoshihiro Maru went 3-for-5 with a homer, a triple and two RBIs as Hiroshima beat Tokyo Yakult to win its home opener behind six strong innings from Yusuke Nomura (1-0).
Dragons 10, Tigers 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Daisuke Yamai (1-0) allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings and two relievers completed Chunichi’s three-hit shutout of host Hanshin.
Second-year Tigers right-hander Shintaro Fujinami (0-1) was rocked for six runs in 7-2/3 innings.
Fighters 5, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, major league journeyman Luis Mendoza won his Japan debut as Hokkaido Nippon Ham handed Fukuoka Softbank its first loss of the season.
The right-hander allowed a run in 6-2/3 innings, while Jason Standridge (0-1) gave up four runs in 6-1/3 innings in his first game back with the Hawks.
Lions 6, Marines 2
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Kazuhisa Makita (1-0) outpitched his former Seibu and Japan teammate Hideaki Wakui (0-1) to beat Chiba Lotte and win a battle between teams looking for their first win of the season.
Makita allowed two runs — one earned — in eight innings, while Wakui surrendered three runs in 5-2/3 innings. Veteran major leaguer Cody Ransom hit his first homer for the Lions.
Buffaloes 4, Eagles 2
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Esteban German’s two-run, third-inning single brought Orix from behind as the Buffaloes spoiled the home opener of Tohoku Rakuten.