• Kyodo News


Hiroshi Hirao singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and four relievers did not allow a runner over the final seven innings Sunday as the Seibu Lions rallied to beat the Yomiuri Giants 3-2 in Game 7 and won their first Japan Series crown in four years.

Seibu won its 13th Japan Series title, including three by the Nishitetsu Lions, its forerunner to Seibu. Yomiuri was looking for its 21st Japan Series crown and first since it swept Seibu in four games in 2002, Hara’s first year as manager.

Utility player Hirao, who drove in all four runs the previous day to help Seibu even the series at three games apiece, ripped a two-out single up the middle off hard-throwing reliever Daisuke Ochi (1-1) with runners on first and second in the eighth at Tokyo Dome.

Yomiuri took a 2-0 lead on a wild pitch by Fumiya Nishiguchi in the first and Hayato Sakamoto’s solo homer off the veteran right-hander in the second.

Yomiuri starter Tetsuya Utsumi limited the damage to a fifth-inning solo homer by Hiram Bocachica over 5-1/3 innings, allowing three hits and a walk.

But Seibu turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead in the eighth. Yasuyuki Kataoka was hit by a pitch from Ochi leading off the inning and stole second before a Takumi Kuriyama sacrifice bunt moved him to third with one out.

The Pacific League stolen base leader then showed dazzling speed, scoring the tying run on a Hiroyuki Nakajima trickler to third baseman Michihiro Ogasawara.

Later in the eighth, Takeya Nakamura and Kosuke Noda drew back-to-back walks to set the stage for Hirao.

Tomoki Hoshino (1-0) got the win with a scoreless seventh. Alex Graman retired all six batters he faced for his second save of the series.

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