SENDAI – Akihisa Makida celebrated his 32nd birthday in grand fashion, completing a ninth-inning comeback with a two-run sayonara double to lift the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to a 4-3 interleague victory over the Hanshin Tigers.
It was a stunning reversal of fortune after Tigers starter Randy Messenger had held the Pacific League defending champs to a hit over eight scoreless innings and went into the ninth with a 3-0 lead. Tetsuro Nishida, however, singled to open the ninth and scored when pinch hitter Mitsutaka Goto tripled on a drive to the wall in straight-away left that Matt Murton was unable to catch.
Closer Oh Seung-hwan (1-2) surrendered John Bowker’s sacrifice fly to deep center. With two outs, Takero Okajima kept it alive with an infield single and Oh pitched around Andruw Jones, walking him on four pitches.
Makida then drilled a fastball away over the head of right fielder Ryosuke Ogata, who missed the ball as it came off the wall, allowing Jones to score easily from first with the winning run.
“I was so nervous going up to the plate,” Makida said. “But I was also determined.
“It’s my birthday and I never imagined hitting in this kind of situation and it all turning out like this, in this great win, this sayonara victory.”
The victory was the Eagles’ sixth straight over Hanshin, a streak that dates back to 2012.
Rakuten right-hander Takahiro Norimoto, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts, pitched out of a jam in the sixth to keep Hanshin scoreless, but with one out and two on in the seventh, he walked the No. 8 hitter intentionally to make Messenger bat, and the Tigers pitcher drew a bases-loaded walk. Norimoto got a big double play to get out of that inning with the game intact.
Eagles right-hander Hiroyuki Fukuyama surrendered a one-out infield single in the eighth and Mauro Gomez’s 11th homer of the season, making it 3-0 Hanshin. Sho Miyagawa (1-0) allowed two walks in a scoreless ninth to earn the win.
Messenger did not figure in the decision after allowing two runs on three hits in eight-plus innings. He struck out nine without walking a batter.
BayStars 5, Lions 2
At Seibu Dome, Yasuo Kubo (4-3) threw his first complete game in two seasons and Yokohama decided it in the third inning, when Tony Blanco doubled in two runs and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo belted a two-run homer in a win over Seibu.
Buffaloes 5, Swallows 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takahiro Matsuba (3-1) allowed four hits and three walks over 5-2/3 innings and two relievers completed the four-hit shutout as PL-leading Orix defeated Tokyo Yakult.
Yoshio Itoi opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the first inning.
Fighters 10, Carp 2
At Sapporo Dome, Sho Nakata broke a 2-2 tie in the third inning with a three-run homer and added a two-run double in the fifth in a 3-for-4 night as Hokkaido Nippon Ham came from behind to beat Central League-leading Hiroshima.
Hawks 8, Giants 3
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Fukuoka’s Softbank’s Nobuhiro Matsuda broke a 2-2 tie with a sixth-inning RBI single and Kenji Akashi doubled in two when Yomiuri left fielder Frederich Cepeda mishandled his slicing opposite-field fly.
Jason Standridge (5-2) allowed two runs in six innings to earn the win.
Dragons 5, Marines 4 (11)
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Hector Luna went 3-for-3 with a homer, two walks, an RBI triple and a leadoff double that sparked the winning rally.
Ryosuke Hirata’s sacrifice fly drove in Luna with the winning run.