SENDAI – Hayato Sakamoto singled in two runs in the ninth inning as the Yomiuri Giants came from behind to beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 3-2 in interleague play on Sunday afternoon.
Rakuten right-hander Takahiro Norimoto (7-4), who had been a key part of the Eagles’ first Pacific League and Japan Series championships last season, held the Giants to one hit through eight innings but gave up three runs in the ninth. The right-hander surrendered six singles and struck out six, without issuing a walk.
The Eagles, however, left the bases loaded three times, and didn’t get on the scoreboard until former Giant John Bowker homered to lead off the eighth.
Hisayoshi Chono and Yoshinobu Takahashi singled to open the ninth for the Giants against Norimoto. Pinch runner Takahiro Suzuki stole second, and Sakamoto swatted a 3-2 pitch away that rolled through the drawn-in Eagles’ infield for a two-run single.
“I haven’t hit much in these kind of situations, so it was good to do something,” Sakamoto said. “We were able to hang in there and keep fighting to the end, it’s something we’ll need to keep doing.”
It was the sixth straight victory for the Central League leaders.
Sakamoto was run out between first and second, but singles by Yasuyuki Kataoka and Shuichi Murata tacked on an insurance run.
Andruw Jones homered with one out in the ninth off Scott Mathieson, who collected his 11th save. Jones went 4-for-4 with a walk, as the Eagles combined for 11 hits and five walks but couldn’t make them count on the scoreboard.
BayStars 5, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, former closer Shun Yamaguchi worked 8-1/3 innings to improve to 3-0 in three starts as Yokohama whipped Fukuoka Softbank.
The right-hander scattered eight hits and a walk, while striking out six.
Swallows 3, Fighters 2
At Sapporo Dome, Takahiro Araki broke a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth inning to lift Tokyo Yakult past Hokkaido Nippon Ham, as rookie Keiji Iwahashi took the mound in the ninth with one out and a man on third and retired two batters to earn his first save.
Dragons 6, Buffaloes 4
At Kyocera Dome, Kazuhiro Wada drove in three runs and hit a tie-breaking two-run home run as Chunichi came from behind to beat Orix and snap the PL leading-Buffaloes’ winning streak at seven.
Tigers 8, Lions 1
At Seibu Dome, Randy Messenger (5-6) struck out 13, while allowing just a run in eight innings, and rookie Ryosuke Ogata homered and drove in four as Hanshin battered Seibu.
Carp 8, Marines 5
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Brad Eldred belted a come-from-behind grand slam in the fourth inning to power Hiroshima to a win over Chiba Lotte as the Carp snapped a nine-game losing streak.