Yoshihisa Naruse threw his fifth straight quality start and won for the first time in over a month as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows defeated the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers 6-4 on Wednesday night.
Naruse (3-7) allowed three runs on five hits and a walk over six innings to pick up his first win since May 28. The lefty allowed a pair of home runs, including a game-tying two-run shot by Ryutaro Umeno on an 0-2 pitch in the fourth inning, while striking out three.
“The main thing for me is to execute my pitches,” said Naruse, who joined Yakult over the winter as a free agent. “That second home run could have been avoided, and so I’m really glad we could come back to win.”
The Swallows’ Mitch Dening broke the tie in the fifth with a bloop RBI single, and leadoff man Tetsuto Yamada drove in two big runs in the sixth with his 15th home run.
With the score tied 3-3 in the fifth, Hanshin reliever Hiroaki Saiuchi walked Yamada to open the inning, and with two outs and first base open, pitched around CL home run leader Kazuhiro Hatakeyama. Lefty Kazuya Takamiya came in to face the left-handed-hitting Denning, whose flare fell in for an RBI single.
“Baseball’s a funny game,” said Denning, who began the season playing in Niigata in the independent BC League. “The last couple of weeks I’ve been lining out, and then I get that little bloop hit that helps us win the game.”
The Swallows, who moved to within one game of the first place Tigers, fell behind in the second on a solo homer by Hanshin’s Matt Murton.
But Yakult came back in the third after back-to-back two out walks to Yamada and No. 2 man Takahiro Araki. Shingo Kawabata singled in one run and Hatakeyama tied it with a double.
Yamada scored his third run of the game from the batter’s box, when he homered with one on.
“That was the best I’ve hit one all year,” he said.
Mauro Gomez hit a solo shot in the eighth to pull the Tigers to within two. The visitors came within a few feet of tying it in the ninth, when pinch hitter Kosuke Fukudome doubled off the wall with a man on against closer Tony Barnette. The right-hander, however, pitched out of trouble to earn his 19th save.
Carp 10, Giants 3
At Tokyo Dome, right-hander Kazuki Yabuta (1-0) Hiroshima’s No. 2 draft pick last autumn, allowed two runs over five innings in his debut and the Carp broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth against Yomiuri starter Toshiya Sugiuchi (5-4), getting five straight hits off the lefty. The visitors sent 10 men to the plate during the six-run inning.
The Giants’ Shinnosuke Abe became the 28th player to reach 350 career home runs. He’s only the third player to reach that mark after spending the bulk of his career as a catcher.
Dragons 8, BayStars 5
Lions 10, Hawks 3
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Ernesto Mejia, Takumi Kuriyama and Takeya Nakamura each homered for Seibu in a come-from-behind win over league-leading Softbank.
Right-hander Ryoma Nogami (7-3) lasted seven innings for the Lions, while Jason Standridge (6-6) gave up six runs in 7⅓ innings for the Hawks.
Marines at Eagles — ppd.
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