Kazuhiro Hatakeyama’s three-run homer keyed a four-run second inning, the bullpen barely stitched things together after starter Masato Nakazawa imploded and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows held off the Hiroshima Carp 11-9 on Friday night.
The Carp struck in the opening frame at Jingu Stadium.
Yoshihiro Maru stroked a groundball up the middle for a one-out single. After center fielder Tsuyoshi Ueda made a well-timed catch off the wall for the second out, Kila Ka’aihue drew his fourth walk in as many games since arriving in Japan.
Jun Hirose hit a comebacker for a base hit, and a run scored on lefty Nakazawa’s throwing error to first. Masato Akamatsu added an RBI single down the third-base line to make it 2-0 Carp.
But the Swallows got even, and then some, in the bottom of the inning.
It started with three consecutive hard-hit singles to center. After Wladimir Balentien popped out to short, Hatakeyama drew a walk to drive in Yakult’s first run.
Another run scored on Shinya Miyamoto’s groundout and Shingo Kawabata, playing in his third game back since returning from an ankle injury, tripled with runners at the corners for a 4-2 lead.
It was scoring deja vu for the Swallows in the second. Tetsuto Yamada and Lastings Milledge drew walks. Balentien rapped an RBI single to center, followed by Hatakeyama’s drive to left-center off right-hander Keisuke Imai (1-1) to make it 8-2.
But last-place Yakult’s pitching turned what should have been a blow out into a wild affair, causing the home fans to avert their eyes from a train wreck in the making.
Nakazawa wasted the Swallows hit parade in the fourth, when Carp catcher Yoshiyuki Ishihara led off with a home run. Pinch hitter Tetsuya Kokubo drew a walk, and Ryosuke Kikuchi’s two-run shot cut Hiroshima’s deficit to three and ended Nakazawa’s night.
Ueda and Milledge had back-to-back singles to start the home half of the fourth, and a run scored on Ishihara’s passed ball as Hatakeyama went down on strikes for the second out.
Kenta Abe, Yakult’s second pitcher, made things worse after loading the bases and letting across a run on a wild pitch with one out in the top of the fifth. Kikuchi added a sacrifice fly against Masaya Emura that brought Hiroshima within two.
Yakult added a run on first baseman Ka’aihue’s error in the seventh, and Balentien chipped in with a two-out solo blast in the eighth, his Japan-best 29th homer. Shota Dobayashi made things interesting with a two-out, two-run shot in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough.
Second-year right-hander Ryohei Kiya (1-0), retired six straight batters for his first career win. Ka’aihue, who had four homers and 10 RBIs in his first three games in Japan, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk in his fourth.
Dragons 9, Giants 1
At Nagoya Dome, Ryosuke Hirata singled, doubled and tripled and had five RBIs, and Motonobu Tanishige also homered as Chunichi routed Central League-leading Yomiuri and snapped a four-game skid.
Kazuhiro Wada had two RBIs, one on a third-inning double. Yudai Ono (5-6) yielded one run over seven effective innings to earn the win.
The Dragons’ Takuya Asao, the CL’s 2011 MVP, marked his return from a shoulder injury by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth.
Tigers 3, BayStars 2
Lions 4, Eagles 3 (12)
Buffaloes 7, Hawks 2
Marines 4, Fighters 1
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5