NIIGATA – Hanshin Tigers slugger Craig Brazell hit a tying homer in the eighth inning as the Central League and the Pacific League played to a 5-5, nine-inning tie in Game 2 of the Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star Series on Saturday.
The Swallows’ Norichika Aoki hit a two-run triple and the Dragons’ Masahiko Morino added a sacrifice fly in the fifth to pull the CL within 5-4 before Brazell’s shot over the center-field wall at Hard Off Eco Stadium.
Seibu Lions second baseman Yasuyuki Kataoka was named the MVP after going 4-for-5 with a stolen base and two runs scored.
“I didn’t expect to win the MVP award,” the leadoff hitter said. “I’m glad I got four hits in this exciting All-Star game.”
Aoki finished with three hits, two RBIs and a pair of stolen bases.
Hawks southpaw Toshiya Sugiuchi started for the PL and threw two scoreless innings, while CL starter Shun Tono of the Giants was roughed up for four runs in two innings in his All-Star debut.
The Eagles’ Takeshi Yamasaki hit a solo homer for the second straight night and the Marines’ Tomoya Satozaki added a two-run drive in the second inning, helping the PL to an early 4-0 lead.
It was the ninth tie game in Japanese All-Star history. The PL leads the CL 75 wins to 70.
“They (the CL) rallied and came close to scoring the go-ahead run. It was an exciting game,” said PL manager Masataka Nashida, Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s skipper. “Kataoka was impressive. He can steal bases and he can get extra-base hits. The best thing for this All-Star series was that no one got injured or anything.”
In the Home Run Derby prior to the game, the Marines’ Kim Tae Kyun needed just one blast to beat the Giants’ Shinnosuke Abe in the final.
The 2011 All-Star games will be played at Nagoya Dome and Chiba Marine Stadium in late July.