Tuesday night was “Hisayoshi Chono Player’s Day” at Tokyo Dome, and it was only fitting the man of the hour stole the show.
Chono hit a game-tying three-run triple in the sixth inning, then scored the tiebreaking run on Shinnosuke Abe’s sacrifice fly in the same frame as the Yomiuri Giants came from behind to beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5-4 in front of 42,521 fans at the Big Egg.
“I saw the outfield was playing shallow and took advantage of that,” Chono said. “It felt good to clear the bases and tie the game.”
A big game might’ve been in the stars for Chono, who wears No. 7 and just so happened to come up with the biggest hit of the night on July 7, which was also Tanabata, Japan’s star festival.
Chono has struggled against the Swallows this season, and entered the game 2-for-28 with five strikeouts against the Birds. He grounded out in his first at-bat on Tuesday and flew out to right in his second trip to the plate.
Chono stepped into the batter’s box in the sixth with Tokyo Dome rocking, after the Giants had loaded the bases on a single by Soichiro Tateoka, a walk drawn by Hayato Sakamoto and a single from Yoshiyuki Kamei. Chono swung at the first pitch he saw, a 146-kph fastball, from Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa, and hit a drive to right-center the Yakult outfielders couldn’t catch.
“Chono has been very aggressive recently,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “I like the way he’s hitting.”
Abe, batting next, made sure Chono wasn’t standing on third for long, hitting a fly ball to left that allowed Chono to tag up and score.
“I said to Chono, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” Abe said. “Then after he tied the game, I said to myself, ‘Let’s do it.’ “
Abe also homered for Yomiuri, which moved back to .500 and into a share of first place in the Central League.
“We have to keep on playing good baseball to stay ahead of the other teams,” Abe said.
Kamei, hitting fourth for the first time as a Giants player, was 2-for-4 for the home team.
Ryosuke Miyaguni (1-0) pitched a clean inning in the top of the sixth and was credited with the win in relief. Tetsuya Yamaguchi and Scott Mathieson protected the lead in the seventh and eighth innings, and Hirokazu Sawamura worked the ninth for his 19th save of the season.
Starter Hayato Takagi (6-5) allowed four runs — two earned — in five shaky innings on the mound. Takagi struck out four, walked two, hit a batter, and threw 114 pitches. The rookie, who began the season 5-0, is still looking for his first winning decision since May 24.
Tetsuto Yamada starred for the Swallows, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and two stolen bases. Mitch Dening drove in a run with an infield single in the top of the first, and Kazuhiro Hatakeyama brought in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Swallows starter Ogawa (4-5) allowed all five Giants runs during his six innings of work. Ogawa struck out four, walked two and allowed five hits.
The Swallows lost their third straight game.
The Giants trailed 1-0 in the second, when Abe tied the game with his fifth home run of the season.
“I was jammed. I was luckily the ball had enough carry to go over the fence.
Yakult went back ahead, 2-1, on Hatakeyama’s sacrifice fly to left, and Yamada tacked on two more runs with a double in the fourth.
Yakult held onto the lead until Chono and Abe put Yomiuri ahead to stay in the sixth.
Kubo tames Carp
Yasutomo Kubo allowed a run in eight innings and outpitched former New York Yankee Hiroki Kuroda as the Yokohama BayStars beat the Hiroshima Carp 3-1 on Tuesday.
Kubo (6-4) scattered five hits without a walk and struck out six, allowing his only run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI double from Takahiro Arai at Mazda Stadium.
“My physical condition has been good and I managed to be careful of giving away walks today,” said the right-hander, who threw 91 pitches and allowed only two runners to reach safely between the sixth and eighth innings — one on a dropped third strike and another on an error.
Takayuki Kajitani and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo each hit an RBI double off Kuroda’s two-seam fastball in the opening inning, and Tsutsugo restored the visitors’ two-run lead in the fifth, when he grounded out with runners on the corners.
The 40-year-old Kuroda (6-4) pitched six innings and allowed the three runs on six hits, while walking two, but could not stop the Hiroshima’s winning streak from ending at four.
BaytStars rookie closer Yasuaki Yamasaki worked the ninth to record his 21st save.
Dragons 3, Tigers 0
At Okayama Prefecture’s Muscat Stadium, Masahiko Morino’s seventh-inning sacrifice fly plated Atsushi Fujii with the game’s first run, and Shunta Wakamatsu (2-1) and three Chunichi relievers combined to shut out Hanshin.
Lions 1, Buffaloes 0
At Seibu Prince Dome, Ryota Wakiya singled in the game’s only run in the sixth inning as Seibu’s Kazuhisa Makita (5-6) went eight innings to outduel Orix’s Brandon Dickson (8-6) in the Lions’ third straight win.
Eagles 4, Hawks 3
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Tohoku Rakuten hit three homers in a game for the first time this season. Gaby Sanchez, Shota Koseki and Kazuo Matsui all went deep off Fukuoka’s Softbank’s Shota Takeda (7-3).
Fighters 6, Marines 3
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Otani doubled in the game’s first run in a three-run second inning as every Hokkaido Nippon Ham starter had a hit in a 16-hit battering of Chiba Lotte.
Otani went 1-for-5 with two RBIs, while Sho Nakata hit his 23rd homer for the Fighters.