Mauro Gomez’s tie-breaking two-run home run off closer Scott Mathieson in the 10th inning propelled the Hanshin Tigers to a 5-4 win over the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants on Wednesday evening.
Gomez’s 21st homer of the year, off a high 0-1 fastball before 44,904 at Tokyo Dome, broke a 3-3 deadlock that had stood since the Tigers overcame a three-run lead to tie it in the eighth.
“I know he has a good fastball, and I made an adjustment,” said Gomez, who took his time getting down the first-base line to watch his towering shot. “I felt relaxed the whole game. Sometimes when I’m not, (my swing) gets too big, but today I was able stay relaxed and get a pitch up in the strike zone.”
Shinnosuke Abe, who hit a two-run homer in the Giants’ come-from-behind win the night before, opened the 10th by taking Hanshin closer Oh Seung Hwan deep for his 16th bomb of the season.
Oh, who blew a one-run lead in the ninth on Tuesday, got a ground out and a strikeout before ending it on a pop up to record his 33rd save.
The Giants’ loss left them 1-1/2 games ahead of Hanshin and two games in front of the third-place Hiroshima Carp.
Mathieson (6-4), who allowed two runs in 1-1/3 innings, took the loss, while Tigers rookie Kazuyuki Kaneda (5-0) worked an easy 1-2-3 ninth against the top of the Yomiuri order to earn the win.
Tigers captain Takashi Toritani empowered Hanshin’s comeback, going 4-for-5 with an RBI double in the eighth. He got things started in the 10th with a single.
“He’s a very good hitter,” Gomez said. “It’s sweet. He’s always on base. That makes it easy for us.”
Shuichi Murata opened the scoring in the first for the Giants. With two men on, he belted a high, straight 2-2 fastball from lefty Minoru Iwata out to straight-away right for an opposite-field home run, which made him the 117th player with 1,500 career hits in Japan.
The Tigers repeatedly hit the ball hard against Yuki Koyama, but couldn’t mount a threat until the seventh, when the right-hander began missing up in the zone.
With one out and two on, Gomez followed singles by Hiroki Uemoto and Toritani with a single to opposite field to make it a 3-1 game.
Koyama allowed three runs on six hits over 5-1/3 innings and struck out eight without issuing a walk. His opposite number, Iwata, worked six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks, one intentional. The lefty fanned six.
Kentaro Nishimura worked a scoreless seventh for the Giants, but Tetsuya Yamaguchi, once Yomiuri’s star reliever, blew the lead in the eighth.
The lefty walked one man and hit the next and surrendered an RBI double to Toritani. After two straight balls to Gomez, Hara opted to load the bases before Murton, the CL batting average leader, grounded into a 4-6-3 double play as the tying run scored.
Tigers right-hander Shinobu Fukuhara escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and Hanshin got a runner as far as second in the ninth against Mathieson, but failed to score.
Also on Wednesday, Hanshin team president Nobuo Minami said he will ask manager Yutaka Wada to return next season. The 51-year-old Wada’s three-year contract expires this year.
Carp 2, Swallows 1 (11)
At Mazda Stadium, Yoshiyuki Ishihara delivered the winning run with an 11th-inning infield single to lift Hiroshima past Yakult in a game that was scoreless through nine innings.
BayStars 8, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, Shun Yamaguchi (5-3) allowed a run in eight innings and DeNA cruised past Chunichi after getting a two-run, first-inning double from Aarom Baldiris and a two-run single in the second from Masayuki Kuwahara.
Fighters 4, Hawks 3
At Yafuoku Dome, Softbank ace Tadashi Settsu (8-6) allowed four runs in seven innings as Nippon ham took the lead on a first-inning Yang Dai-Kang RBI single and a two-run Sho Nakata homer in the second, and then held on to win.
Buffaloes 7, Marines 3
At Kyocera Dome, rookie right-hander Daiki Tomei (5-5) allowed two runs in 5-1/3 innings and four Orix relievers held Lotte to an unearned run the rest of the way as the Buffaloes moved within 1-1/2 games of league-leading Softbank.