Opportunistic Dragons force tie against Giants


Staff Writer

Ryosuke Hirata represented the Chunichi Dragons’ last line of defense as he scooped up Shunichi Murata’s two-out ninth-inning single in right field, as Takahiro Suzuki rounded third with his sights set on scoring the winning run for the Yomiuri Giants.

Hirata’s throw made it home in time for catcher Motonobu Tanishige to tag out Suzuki and help the Dragons avoid a loss in their 6-6 tie with the Giants on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.

The Giants trailed by a run entering the ninth with Dragons closer Hitoki Iwase on the mound.

Yomiuri shortstop Hayato Sakamoto hit a one-out double, followed by a Yoshitomo Tani single that left runners on the corners. Hisayoshi Chono hit a grounder to short, but Sakamoto beat the throw home to tie the score at 6-6.

Shinnosuke Abe flew out to left for the second out of the inning. Murata then lined a ball into right, and Hirata nailed Suzuki, running for Tani, at the plate to end the game.

Chunichi outfielder Yohei Oshima led all batters with three hits, falling a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, and drove in a run.

Takeshi Yamasaki finished 1-for-2 with a pair of RBIs for the Dragons, and Tanishige, Masahiko Morino and Tony Blanco also drove in runs.

The Dragons’ Takuya Asao retired the side in the eighth for his Central League record 142nd career hold. Former Hanshin Tigers reliever Jeff Williams held the previous mark of 141.

Yomiuri’s Yoshinobu Takahashi was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and Murata, Michihiro Ogasawara and Abe were each credited with an RBI.

Dragons hurler Yudai Kawai walked two batters and hit another to walk in a run during the first inning, and Giants starter D.J. Houlton issued five free passes.

Kawai was done after giving up four runs on three hits in the first. Houlton pitched into the sixth and was charged with five runs on five hits.

Blanco’s sacrifice fly got Chunichi out to an early 1-0 lead in the top half of the first inning.

Takahashi’s two-run single highlighted a four-run first for the Giants, and Ogasawara extended the lead to 5-1 with a sacrifice fly in the second.

The Dragons managed to get on the scoreboard again in the third on Morino’s RBI groundout.

Chunichi opened the sixth inning with singles by Kazuhiro Wada and Hirokazu Ibata.

Moments later, reliever Junpei Ono walked Tanishige to give the Dragons their first run of the inning and yielded Yamasaki’s pinch-hit two-run double.

Oshima lined reliever Yasunari Takagi’s first pitch back up the middle to drive in the go-ahead run.