Yoshinobu Takahashi hit a tiebreaking two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning Sunday to lift the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants to a 3-1 win that completed a three-game sweep of the Chunichi Dragons.
A day after Takahashi hit a three-run homer in another pinch-hit performance in Saturday’s 10-inning, 7-6 win, he was back for more heroics after Chunichi starter Tatsuro Hamada and reliever Shinji Tajima combined to load the bases with an eighth-inning leadoff double, hit batsman and a walk at Tokyo Dome.
Takahashi latched onto a 1-0 fastball for a line drive up the middle to drive in runners from second and third before the third out was recorded on the play.
“I was focused in my at-bats yesterday and today. I got a good look at that fastball. We want to keep winning no matter how we do it and widen our lead on second place,” said Takahashi.
Hirokazu Sawamura (1-0), the 2011 CL Rookie of the Year, limited the damage to one run and seven hits over eight innings in his first start of the season after returning from rehab on his right shoulder.
“I have to thank the fans for all their support for today’s win,” said Sawamura, who struck out eight and walked one. “I really got a lot of support during my rehab.”
Scott Mathieson had a 1-2-3 ninth for his 14th save. Hamada (4-1) took the loss after yielding three runs in 7-⅔ innings.
Giants second baseman Hirokazu Ibata had a one-out solo homer in the fourth for a 1-0 lead against his former team. Hamada’s seventh-inning, RBI single tied it 1-1 before the Giants went ahead for good in the eighth.
Tigers 12, BayStars 6
At Yokohama Stadium, the Tigers turned Yokohama’s resurgent eight-inning five-run rally on its head with a five-run ninth of their own, featuring captain Takashi Toritani’s three-run double, as Hanshin won its fifth in a row. Matt Murton went 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
Swallows at Carp — ppd.
Hawks 5, Eagles 1
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, right-hander Nao Higashihama (2-0) threw one-run ball over six innings despite scattering seven hits and Akira Nakamura had a two-run single as Softbank routed Rakuten. Eagles starter Manabu Mima (2-8) was tagged with the loss.
Lions 8, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takeya Nakamura hit a two-run homer and Ernesto Mejia had a three-run blast off Brandon Dickson as Seibu ran away in a romp over Orix, who slipped out of first place for the first time since May 17. Michael Bowden, the second pitcher up, threw three scoreless innings for his first win in Japan.
Fighters 4, Marines 3 (11)
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Hokkaido Nippon Ham scored the tiebreaking run in the 11th inning on a throwing error by Chiba Lotte shortstop Kei Hosoya on Tomoya Ichikawa’s grounder. Michael Crotta (2-2) tossed two scoreless innings for the team’s third straight win.