Yomiuri Giants captain Shinnosuke Abe wasn’t in his normal spot behind the plate, but he still made a big difference for starting pitcher Dicky Gonzalez.
Abe hit a two-run triple to help the Giants get off to a fast start in the first inning, and the early run support gave Gonzalez some breathing room, as the Giants eased to a 5-1 win over the Swallows on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.
“I was thinking sac fly,” Abe said. “But I got good wood on the ball and hit it in a good spot. I was surprised it carried that far, but I’ll take it.”
Abe was given a day off from his normal catching duties and started the game at first base. He made an error in the field, but finished with a pair of RBIs on a 1-for-3 day at the plate.
Giants star Alex Ramirez also drove in a pair of runs on a 2-for-3 day and Hayato Sakamoto finished 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Swallows were beaten by a former teammate for the second straight night, after losing to Shugo Fujii on Monday.
“I felt good today,” Gonzalez said. “I had my control and I got the win, so I’m happy.”
Gonzalez (3-3), a Swallows player from 2004-08, didn’t have his “A” game the way Fujii did, but limited the Swallows to one unearned run on six hits. He struck out two over six innings.
The loss continues the downward spiral for the last-place Swallows, who have lost seven of eight.
Yakult starter Masanori Ishikawa (0-6) lasted 6 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits.
Swallows first baseman Jamie D’Antona drove in his team’s only run, lining an RBI single into right in the fourth.
The Giants started strong, with Sakamoto, Hisayoshi Chono and Michihiro Ogasawara beginning the bottom of the first with consecutive singles. Sakamoto came home on a sacrifice fly by Ramirez to make the score 1-0.
Abe followed with a deep ball to center that bounced of the glove of outfielder Norichika Aoki, resulting in a two-run triple.
Sakamoto put another run on the board with an RBI double in the second to increase the lead to 4-0.
Aoki hit a bunt single in the fourth, then went to third on a throwing error by Gonzalez.
D’Antona’s timely hit brought Aoki home, but that would be all the offense the Swallows could muster.
Ramirez extended the lead to 5-1 on an RBI single in the eighth.
The teams return to Tokyo Dome on Wednesday, which is also Kids Day, for the final game of their three-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
“I would urge the kids to practice as much as they can if they want to be pro ballplayers,” Abe said. “We expect to see a lot of children out here tomorrow for another good game and another win for the Giants.”
Dragons top Tigers
NAGOYA (Kyodo) Tony Blanco and Kazuhiro Wada hit back-to-back homers as Chunichi overcame a 1-0 deficit in the fourth inning and Masahiko Morino had four hits with two runs scored in the Chunichi Dragons’ 6-2 win over Hanshin Tigers in the Central League on Tuesday.
Kazuki Yoshimi (5-1) threw two-run ball over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one.
Blanco had a two-run go-ahead blast off Yasutomo Kubo (3-3) in the fourth and added an RBI double in the sixth. Yohei Oshima’s two-run triple added to the damage in the eighth.
BayStars 6, Carp 5
At Yokohama Stadium, Shotaro Ide singled home the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as Yokohama prevailed over Hiroshima.
Ide, recently traded from the Hawks, hit a base hit down the left-field line off Ken Takahashi (4-2) with one out and the bases loaded to decide it.
Marines 10, Fighters 1
At Chiba Marine Stadium, Shoitsu Omatsu hit two of Chiba Lotte’s five homers and Yuki Karakawa threw one-run ball over eight innings in a rout of Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Tadahito Iguchi led off the third inning with a homer before Kim Tae Kyun’s solo homer, his sixth in five games, and Saburo Omura’s two-run blast off Mitsuo Yoshikawa (0-2) put the Marines ahead 4-1.
Lions 6, Eagles 5 (10)
At Seibu Dome, Takumi Kuriyama doubled in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning as Saitama Seibu edged Tohoku Rakuten.
Hawks 11, Buffaloes 3
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a grand slam and Jose Ortiz a three-run homer as Fukuoka Softbank handed Orix its season-worst sixth straight loss.