Greg Larocca hit a game-tying solo homer and Koichi Ogata followed with a two-run blast in the ninth inning Friday as the Hiroshima Carp rallied to beat the Yomiuri Giants 4-2 in the Central League’s opening-day action.

News photoFullcast Stadium, home of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden
Eagles, is packed prior to the start of the Eagles’ first home game in Sendai
on Friday.

With the game seemingly wrapped up for the Giants, Larocca connected off Dan Miceli (0-1) on a one-out drive that barely cleared the center-field wall to make it 2-2 at Tokyo Dome.

After a Tomonori Maeda single, Ogata delivered a shot over the left-field wall for the game winner.

“I told the players before the game not to give up to the last second and this is an incredible result. Carp manager Koji Yamamoto said. “More than anyone though, (Hiroki) Kuroda really put in the work for us today.”

Hiroki Kuroda (1-0) went the distance while striking out seven and walking none for the win.

Yomiuri starter Koji Uehara, pitching with a hamstring injury, struggled early on but settled down to allow just one run on four hits in seven strong innings. Yoshinobu Takahashi went 2-for-4 with a solo homer for Yomiuri.

Dragons 4, BayStars 0

At Nagoya Dome, Alex Ochoa hit a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth inning to give defending CL champion Chunichi a “sayonara” victory over Yokohama.

Kazuyoshi Tatsunami hit a leadoff triple to left before Tyrone Woods and Kosuke Fukudome were intentionally walked to set the stage for Ochoa’s heroics.

Kenshin Kawakami, who claimed the league title for most wins with 17 victories last season, held Hiroshima to six hits over nine scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in a pitching duel with Daisuke Miura.

Kawakami also won the Sawamura Award as the best starter in Japanese baseball and was the MVP in 2004.

Miura held the Dragons to two hits over eight innings before giving up a game-ending homer to Ochoa in the ninth. He gave up four hits all together and struck out eight.

Swallows 6, Tigers 1

At Osaka Dome, Akinori Iwamura drove in three runs, including a two-run go-ahead single in the sixth inning, and Alex Ramirez hit a three-run homer in the seventh as Yakult overpowered Hanshin in their season opener.

Iwamura had a sacrifice fly in the first inning before Tomoaki Kanemoto’s solo homer tied the game 1-1 in the fourth.

Hawks’ streak ends

CHIBA (Kyodo) Naoyuki Shimizu pitched a four-hit shutout Friday, helping the Lotte Marines end the Softbank Hawks’ perfect start to the season with a 5-0 victory in the Pacific League.

Shimizu (1-1), who took the loss last weekend in Lotte’s season opener, struck four and walked none at Chiba Marine Stadium as he outperformed Tsuyoshi Wada (1-1) in a duel between opening-day starters. The Hawks saw their winning streak snapped at five games.

Kazuya Fukuura opened the scoring with an RBI groundout in the first and Kiyoshi Hatsushiba ignited a three-run seventh with a pinch-hit single, helping Shimizu post his fifth career shutout win and first since July last year.

Buffaloes 7, Fighters 5

Tsuyoshi Shinjo hit a grand slam at Sapporo Dome for his first homer of the season, but it proved too little too late as Orix held off Nippon Ham for its first victory in three games.

Hirotoshi Kitagawa went 3-for-4 with RBI singles in his first two at-bats to lead a 14-hit offense, which also featured two hits each from Arihito Muramatsu, Keiichi Hirano and Makoto Shiozaki.

Eagles 16, Lions 5

Luis Lopez hit a three-run homer to highlight a six-run first inning and Tadaharu Sakai added another three runs as Rakuten, which lost its last four games, pounded out 15 hits to crush Seibu in its home opener at Fullcast Stadium in Sendai.

Hisashi Iwakuma (2-0) got his second win in his first start since the PL’s opening day after giving up five runs while striking out eight in a shaky seven-inning outing.

Kobe into semis

Shuhei Masaki hit a two-run homer highlighting a five-run first inning and Kobe Kokusaidai Fuzoku went on to crush Keio of Kanagawa Prefecture 15-1 in the quarterfinals of the national high school invitational baseball tournament.

Masaki went 3-for-5 and drove in four runs to lead a 15-hit attack at Koshien Stadium, helping the Hyogo Prefecture school reach the semifinals of the annual spring tournament for the first time.

Starter Masaki Onishi and two relievers combined to hold Keio, playing its first quarterfinal in 45 years, to one run and four hits.

In the day’s other quarterfinal, Ryusuke Isaka hit a tie-breaking single and Naomichi Donoue hit a solo homer as Aikodai Meiden of Aichi Prefecture came from a two-run deficit to beat Nara Prefecture’s Tenri 5-2.

The Aikodai Meiden team, on which Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki once played, reached the semifinals for the second straight year after losing in last year’s final.

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