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Dragons’ Hirata slugs three-run shot in 10th to sink Giants

by

Staff Writer

The Chunichi Dragons rallied in the top of the eighth and ninth innings. The Yomiuri Giants pushed back in the bottom half of the ninth.

Chunichi’s Ryosuke Hirata had the final say in the top of the 10th.

Hirata hit a three-run home run to cap a wild finish as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Yomiuri Giants 8-5 after 4 hours and 35 minutes in front of what was left of the crowd of 42,566 on Friday night at Tokyo Dome.

Most of the Dragons fans stuck around, and they serenaded the hero of the night with chants of “Hi-ra-ta, Hi-ra-ta” after the game.

“I was determined to hit the first pitch if it was over the plate,” Hirata said.

It was, and Hirata made reliever Ryosuke Miyaguni pay dearly for a misplaced 127-kph slider.

The Dragons gained a small measure of revenge over the CL leaders, who swept a May 22-24 series between the teams at Nagoya Dome, with the win. Chunichi also put a dismal 7-10-1 interleague campaign in the rearview mirror and pulled within 2 1/2 games of the Giants in the crowded Central League standings.

“We’ll try to win tomorrow and Sunday so we can close (the gap) to within a half-game,” Hirata said.

The Giants looked to be in control after a three-run seventh put them ahead 4-1.

Kazuhiro Wada drove in a run with a single in the eighth and the Dragons cut the lead to one after scoring on a bases-loaded passed ball.

Chunichi went back to work in the top of the ninth. Kyohei Kamezawa walked to begin the inning and went to second on a passed ball with Hirata at the plate. Hirata singled to put runners on the corners, and Kamezawa scored the tying run when Hector Luna hit into a double play.

The next three Dragons, Masahiko Morino, Wada and Anderson Hernandez, each singled to put the Dragons ahead 5-4.

Dragons reliever Katsuki Matayoshi couldn’t make the lead hold up, allowing a leadoff double against Hisayoshi Chono and later giving up a game-tying single to Hayato Sakamoto in the bottom of the ninth.

But Chunichi remained undeterred, and one-out singles by Atsushi Fujii and Kamezawa put runners at first at second for Hirata. Giants manager Tatsunori Hara then summoned Miyaguni out of the bullpen to face the Chunichi slugger.

Hirata took Miyaguni for a ride, hitting his first home run since May 13. The home run was Hirata’s sixth of the season, and the Dragons outfielder finished the game 3-for-6.

“I picked a good time to hit a home run,” he said.

The Dragons made the lead stick this time, with Koji Fukutani on the hill to close things out for his 15th save of the season.

Reliever Chiaki Tone (0-1) took the loss for Yomiuri. Matayoshi (4-2) ended up as the winning pitcher for Chunichi.

Maeda picks up fifth win

KYODO

Kenta Maeda (5-5) allowed a run on five hits and a walk in his first complete game victory of the season as Hiroshima Carp defeated the Yokohama BayStars 3-1 in Central League action on Friday.

Nate Schierholtz went 4-for-5 with a double and an RBI single as the Carp handed the BayStars their 11th straight defeat.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Hawks 4, Fighters 3

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, pinch hitter Yuki Yoshimura singled in the winning run in the ninth as Fukuoka Softbank edged Hokkaido Nippon Ham to take over the Pacific League lead.

Before a packed house, Yoshimura singled off right-hander Hirotoshi Masui’s fastball with runners on first and third with no outs, ending a tightly contested top-of-the-table clash.

The loss left the Fighters a half-game back in second place.

“The infield was in so I tried to be aggressive, thinking just hit it and worry about what happens later,” said Yoshimura. “I’ve had frustrating results recently appearing as a pinch hitter and I felt I had to hit tonight.”

Buffaloes 5, Lions 2

At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Ryoichi Adachi singled in the tying run in a four-run Orix seventh and two batters later, former Seibu star Hiroyuki Nakajima doubled in two runs as the Buffaloes posted their second five-game winning streak of the season.

Eagles 2, Marines 1

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Kenji Tomura (4-5) allowed a run in five innings in an emergency start, Kazuya Fujita doubled in two runs in the third and Tohoku Rakuten held on to beat Chiba Lotte and return to .500 for the first time since April 28.