Damon Hollins said it was only a matter of time before the Yomiuri Giants broke out of their recent slump. Hollins did his part against the Chunichi Dragons on Wednesday with a 120-meter blast to left field in the seventh inning that led the Giants to a 3-1 win in front of 43,878 fans at Tokyo Dome.
“I knew it was gone after I hit it,” Hollins said. “These guys have been throwing me breaking balls and getting me out pretty much all year and it feels good to finally catch one out in front.” The homer was Hollins’ 10th of the season and the Giants improved to 10-0 in games in which he hit a home run.
Hollins had been in a prolonged slump before sending the Giants back into a virtual first-place tie with the Dragons atop the Central League standings. The home run was just his second hit in his last 13 at-bats.
“It feels good to be in the lineup and help this team win,” Hollins said. “I could tell they were starting to lose a little confidence in me because I’ve been struggling as of late.”
The Giants erased a one-run deficit in the sixth behind a Michihiro Ogasawara RBI to tie the game at 1-1. Hollins hit the go-ahead run in the next inning to help the slumping Giants win for just the third time in their last 10 games. Pinch hitter Takuya Kimura added a homer in the eighth to give the Giants an insurance run.
Yomiuri starter Hiroshi Kisanuki (9-7) finished with a no decision after giving up a single run on four hits while striking out five. Reliever Kentaro Nishimura (1-0) pitched the sixth and seventh innings to pick up win. Kiyoshi Toyoda worked the eighth and Koji Uehara closed out the game for his 23rd save of the season.
Masahiro Yamamoto (2-6) took the loss after giving up two runs on five hits over seven innings.
“Their pitcher threw a great game tonight,” Hollins said. “The home run was his only mistake tonight other than Ogasawara getting a base hit (in the sixth). He had a great night. I just finally got ahold of one of those breaking balls.”
After beating the Giants in the first game of the series on Tuesday, the Dragons jumped out to an early lead.
After striking out Hirokazu Ibata to begin the game, Kisanuki allowed Masahiro Araki to reach on a single. With Norihiro Nakamura at the plate, Araki stole second and advanced to third when catcher Shinnosuke Abe’s throw got away from second baseman Ryota Wakiya.
Nakamura followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Araki and put the Dragons up 1-0.
The stolen base was Araki’s 19th of the year which ties him with teammate Hirokazu Ibata, who stole two bases against the Giants.
Tigers crush Yakult
Kodai Sakurai went deep in consecutive at-bats as the Hanshin Tigers hit four homers off Tokyo Yakult Swallows rookie Shun Takaichi to win its fourth in five games while handing Yakult its third straight loss, a 12-2 setback, at Jingu Stadium on Wednesday.
Sakurai and Kentaro Sekimoto hit two-run homers in the second inning and Hanshin added four runs in the next on a three-run shot by Tomoaki Kanemoto and Sakurai’s solo drive, making it 8-1.
Sakurai, who had a career-high five RBIs, added a two-run double in the eighth to cap a 3-for-4 performance. Rookie Keiji Uezono (5-2) pitched his first career complete game, holding the Swallows to two runs on homers by Ryuji Miyade and Alex Ramirez.
Takaichi (0-2) lasted only three innings in his first career start, giving up eight runs on six hits and two walks.
Carp 5, BayStars 2
At Hiroshima Stadium, Hiroshima capitalized on Yokohama defensive miscues to break a 2-2 tie in a three-run seventh inning on its way to victory.
Fighters 1, Buffaloes 0
At Sapporo Dome, Yu Darvish (12-4) threw a five-hit complete-game shutout as Hokkaido Nippon Ham edged Orix for the second night in a row.
Darvish struck out nine and walked two in winning his sixth straight decision.
Hawks 5, Lions 2
At Yahoo Dome, Yuichi Honda went 4-for-5 with two RBIs and Toshiya Sugiuchi pitched seven solid innings, leading Softbank over Seibu.
Eagles 6, Marines 4
At Chiba Marine Stadium, Teppei Tsuchiya hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the sixth inning as Tohoku Rakuten ended Chiba Lotte’s three-game winning streak.
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