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Murata delivers game-winning hit against Swallows

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

The Yomiuri Giants had victory snatched away with two outs in the top of the ninth inning.

In the bottom half of the frame, Leslie Anderson and Shuichi Murata helped them take it back.

Anderson tied the game with a single to right, and Murata sent a crowd of 45,975 into a frenzy with a sayonara single to left that gave Yomiuri a 5-4 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Tuesday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.

“We fought until the end,” Murata said. “It was disappointing we lost the lead with two outs in the ninth, but we never gave up.”

The Giants led almost the entire way and headed into the ninth ahead 3-1, thanks in large part to a solid outing to that point by starter Tomoyuki Sugano.

But the second-year pitcher had trouble finishing the game off in the ninth, getting two outs but allowing a pair of singles in the process.

That was all it took to get Kazuhiro Hatakeyama to the plate, and the Yakult slugger put his team in front with a three-run homer to left.

“I felt I let the team down, but they really picked me up,” Sugano said after the game.

Yomiuri’s Yasuyuki Kataoka doubled with one out in the bottom of the ninth, and Hisayoshi Chono drew a walk. Anderson then drove in the tying run with his fourth hit of the game.

“I just wanted to get a hit or get on base to keep the game going,” the Cuban outfielder said.

Anderson accomplished his goal, but the game didn’t go on for much longer. Murata, following Anderson in the lineup, ended it with his hit to left.

The ninth-inning heroics kept Sugano’s name in the win column. The Yomiuri pitcher struck out six and was charged with four runs on seven hits.

“It’s good we won it for Sugano,” Murata said. “He did his best until the final inning.”

Sugano improved to 5-0 on the year despite nearly letting the game slip away. The right-hander also notched his second-complete-game victory in as many starts and has already beaten each of the other five Central League teams.

“I’ve had a great start this season,” Sugano said. “I don’t know how many games I can win this year, but will look forward to my next chance to pitch.”

The Giants racked up 14 hits, with Anderson’s 4-for-5 day leading the way. Murata finished 3-for-5, and Kataoka had a solo home run among his two hits. Jose Lopez also homered for the Kyojin.

The defeat snapped the Swallows’ two-game win streak.

Reliever Tetsuya Yamamoto (1-2) gave up both runs in the ninth and was charged with the loss.

Hatakeyama finished 1-for-4 with three RBIs for Yakult. Yuhei Takai, who had one of the team’s three hits in the ninth, was 2-for-4 and was the only Swallow with a multi-hit day.

“It was a tough loss,” said Yakult’s Wladimir Balentien, who was 1-for-4. “Tomorrow is another day.”

Tigers edge Carp

KYODO

Randy Messenger (2-3) won a pitching duel against Bryan Bullington (3-3), thanks to Kosuke Fukudome’s two-out solo homer in the eighth inning as the Hanshin Tigers downed the CL-leading Hiroshima Carp 1-0 on Tuesday at Koshien Stadium.

Messenger allowed just two hits and struck out 12 in his first shutout of the season. Tigers captain Takashi Toritani broke up Bullington’s no-hit bid with a two-out double in the seventh.

BayStars 6, Dragons 2

At Yokohama Stadium, Sho Aranami hit a tiebreaking grand slam off Shinji Tajima (2-3) in the eighth inning that lifted Yokohama over Chunichi for its first consecutive win this season.

Hitoshi Fujie (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win.

PACIFIC LEAGUE
Buffaloes 5, Hawks 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yoshio Itoi homered off Jason Standridge (2-2) and had a seventh-inning tiebreaking double as PL leader Orix won its fourth in a row to move 10 games over .500 for the first time in 14 seasons.

Takahiro Okada added a two-run double for insurance.

Yuki Nishi (5-0) limited the damage to two runs and three hits in seven innings and has won all of his starts this season.

Lions 4, Fighters 1

At Seibu Dome, Kazuhisa Makita (2-1) tossed one-run ball over seven innings, Yutaro Osaki went 3-for-3 with two RBIs against Luis Mendoza (1-4) and Seibu held off Hokkaido Nippon Ham, which slipped to its fourth consecutive defeat.

Marines 3, Eagles 0

At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Hideaki Wakui (2-3) went 6-1/3 scoreless innings and Katsuya Kakunaka drove in a pair of runs against struggling Tohoku Rakuten as Chiba Lotte won its fifth straight and moved one game over .500 for the first time this season.

The Eagles lost four straight for the first time this year.