Balentien smacks pair of homers as Swallows maul Giants


Wladimir Balentien had his second-straight two-homer game on Thursday as the last-place Tokyo Yakult Swallows hammered the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants 8-3.

Trailing by a run in the fourth, Balentien singled in the Swallows’ five-run inning, which was highlighted by Ryoji Aikawa’s three-run homer. Balentien’s 45th home run, a two-run shot in the fifth off Giants right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura (4-8) set Yakult’s single-season record.

“To have my name in history is a good feeling, but a better feeling is winning the game,” Balentien said. “I was looking for a pitch I could drive. It was a fastball, a little low, but I put a good swing on it.”

Balentien, who has won the CL home run title in each of his first two seasons in Japan, went deep with two out and none on in the seventh. He is now nine shy of tying Japan’s single-season record of 55, with 37 games left on the schedule.

“That (tying the record) would be history,” he said. “I’m just going to do my best, fight and try hard every AB.”

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara was less than amused by Balentien’s home run binge.

“He’s hitting too well,” Hara said. “He’s not Babe Ruth.”

Dragons 3, Carp 1

At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi turned back the clock as former ace Kenshin Kawakami won his season debut, allowing a run on two hits in five innings, and Japan career saves leader Hitoki Iwase saved his 29th game.

Trailing by a run, Matt Clark put the hosts in front with a three-run, first-inning double.

BayStars at Tigers — ppd.


Fighters 5, Eagles 2

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Shogo Akada hit his first home run in a year, a three-run shot that highlighted a five-run first inning as Hokkaido Nippon Ham handed league-leading Tohoku Rakuten its first five-game losing streak of the season.

Brian Wolfe (5-5) allowed a run on six hits in five-plus innings to earn the win, while the Fighters bullpen repeatedly pitched out of jams. Eagles rookie Takahiro Norimoto (11-7) lasted six innings in a losing effort.

Buffaloes 5, Hawks 1

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, last-place Orix shellacked Fukuoka Softbank southpaw Kazuyuki Hoashi (7-6) for five runs in 5 2/3 innings as the Buffaloes won consecutive games for the first time in a month.

The Hawks, who were one-hit the night before, broke a string of 18 scoreless innings against Orix in the seventh inning, when Seiichi Uchikawa doubled in a run.

Marines 18, Lions 1

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Tadahito Iguchi and Daichi Suzuki each hit a grand slam in a nine-run third inning as Lotte routed Seibu.

Iguchi’s slam was the 12th of his career.

Lions veteran Fumiya Nishiguchi (0-1) was pulled after allowing four runs in the first inning. Tatsuya Oishi, Seibu’s third pitcher, became the fourth player in Japan to surrender two grand slams in one inning.