Shingo Kawabata’s two-out RBI single in the 10th inning lifted the Tokyo Yakult Swallows into sole possession of first place with a 3-2 sayonara victory over the Yomiuri Giants.
The Swallows loaded the bases against Giants closer Hirokazu Sawamura (2-2), and with two outs, Kawabata smacked a first-pitch fastball into center to win it. The two teams started the day tied for the Central League lead.
“The bases were loaded so I was thinking I would absolutely get a first-pitch strike,” Kawabata said. “This was the first game of a series between the top clubs, and we need to give it our all after this.”
Yakult opened the scoring at Jingu Stadium when Keiji Obiki singled home Wladimir Balentien from second base with two outs in the second inning off lefty Aaron Poreda.
Yomiuri, however, tied it in the fourth against Yasuhiro Ogawa, when Leslie Anderson plated Itaru Hashimoto with a two-out single. The visitors added another in the fifth, when Poreda singled home Shuichi Murata, who had reached when Obiki dropped a pop fly.
The Swallows tied it against Poreda, however, in the seventh on Kazuhiro Hatakeyama’s second home run in two nights.
BayStars 8, Dragons 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo put the game on ice with his sixth home run, a third-inning grand slam, and Shoichi Ino (2-1) went eight innings as Yokohama pounded Chunichi.
Eagles 7, Marines 1
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Kenny Ray improved to 4-0 in four starts after allowing a run in six innings against Chiba Lotte.
Wily Mo Pena doubled in a run in the first and Gaby Sanchez singled in another run in the fifth as Tohoku Rakuten snapped a three-game losing streak.
Fighters 2, Buffaloes 1
At Sapporo Dome, Orix reliever Shohei Tsukahara hit Kensuke Kondo with a pitch to force across the winning run in the ninth inning.
Hokkaido Nippon Ham tied it in the eighth on a Hiromi Oka single and halted the Buffaloes’ only winning streak of the year at five games.
Lions 3, Hawks 3 (12)
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Seibu and Fukuoka Softbank each used five relievers to keep the game scoreless until the 12th inning, when it automatically ended in a tie.
The Hawks tied it 3-3 in the sixth on a Kenji Akashi RBI single, and loaded the bases in the 12th with two outs but could not score.
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