NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Kyohei Muranaka allowed one unearned run over eight sharp innings, Wladimir Balentien homered, and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows turned a close game into an 8-1 rout of the Hanshin Tigers to clinch the three-game series on Thursday night.
Muranaka (1-2), who returned to the top team earlier this month after being sidelined with back pain, won his first decision of the season in his fourth start. He struck out six and walked one at Koshien Stadium.
“My teammates scored for me in the opening inning, so I was able to throw strikes,” said Muranaka. “I had trouble only really in the first, but (catcher Yuhei) Nakamura gave some good signs and I was able to pitch well without letting that many runners on.”
Muranaka issued a one-out walk in the first, but then got Tigers captain Takashi Toritani to hit into a double play to end the threat. He yielded just three singles after that, retiring seven in a row in one stretch.
Balentien went deep with a two-run blast with two outs in the first, reaching his 20th homer for the fourth consecutive year. It was the single-season home run king’s first home run since July 23.
Ryota Yachi went 4-for-5 and drove in three runs.
The Tigers came within 3-1 when a run scored on Matt Murton’s double play groundout in the seventh, but Yakult put the game out of reach in the ninth, featuring a two-run double by Yachi.
Atsushi Nomi (5-10) got banged around, yielding three runs and nine hits in seven innings.
Dragons 6, Carp 4
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Chunichi rallied from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game with a four-run fourth, featuring Atsushi Fujii’s two-run double, and Fujii broke the deadlock with an RBI double two innings later in a win over the hosts.
Hitoki Iwase earned his 20th save with a scoreless ninth.
Lions 2, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yosuke Okamoto (1-3) tossed 6-2/3 scoreless innings and Seibu got solo homers from Ernesto Mejia and Takeya Nakamura to scrape by Orix and snap a three-game losing skid.
Rookie No. 2 draft pick Daiki Tomei (2-5) failed to get enough run support after surrendering just one run in eight innings.
Eagles 5, Hawks 1
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Kazuya Fujita hit a two-run homer off Nao Higashihama (2-2) to extend Tohoku Rakuten’s lead in a three-run second inning in support of Takahiro Shiomi (4-5), who threw one-run ball over 5-2/3 frames in a win over Softbank that snapped the team’s losing streak at three.
Fighters 3, Marines 1
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Yuki Saito (1-1) allowed one run in six innings to finally get in the winner’s column for the first time since June 2012.
The Fighters rallied with two runs in the sixth, featuring Keiji Obiki’s game-tying triple and an Eiichi Koyano pinch-hit RBI single.
The Marines slipped into fifth place.