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The Hiroshima Carp and Yomiuri Giants had combined for a host of missed opportunities and enough strikeouts to last a month, but no runs over the first 3 hours and 55 minutes on Friday night.

One swing by Ryosuke Kikuchi made it all worth it for the Carp and their fans.

Kikuchi hit a single that flew past the glove of diving third baseman Shuichi Murata and landed safely in left field to bring home the tiebreaking run as the Carp outlasted the first-place Kyojin 2-0 after 4 hours and 32 minutes in front of 44,517 fans at Tokyo Dome.

“It was a long and grueling game,” Kikuchi said. “I just wanted to put the ball in play and try to score a run and put us ahead.”

Hiroshima’s Seiya Suzuki got things started in the 12th with a leadoff single off Giants reliever Scott Mathieson. Kosuke Tanaka moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt against new pitcher Tetsuya Yamaguchi. Carp catcher Tsubasa Aizawa drew a walk and pinch hitter Tetsuya Kokubo loaded the bases with a single to left.

Kikuchi worked the count to 2-1 before connecting on a slider in the middle of the plate for his tiebreaking RBI single. Yoshihiro Maru added to the lead with a single that made it through the right side of the infield and scored another run.

The game took a scary turn in the bottom of the 12th as leadoff batter Yasuyuki Kataoka was struck in the helmet by pitcher Shota Nakazaki’s second pitch. The Giants infielder was on the ground for a few minutes before being taken off the field on a stretcher. Nakazaki was tossed out of the game for throwing a “dangerous pitch.”

Ryuji Ichioka took over for Nakazaki and nailed down the win despite issuing a walk to Shinnosuke Abe that brought the potential game-winning run to the plate.

The Giants had a rough night at the plate, setting a new team record with 21 strikeouts. Carp starter Kris Johnson fanned 13 batters, reliever Daichi Osera struck out three and Deunte Heath (3-4), the winning pitcher, rang up five.

Mathieson (3-6) was charged with a run in one-plus innings and took the loss.

The game began as a matchup of lefty import starters and quickly turned into a pitcher’s duel.

Johnson, who struck out at least one batter in every inning he pitched, left the mound with the better numbers, walking one and allowing just four hits in seven frames.

Yomiuri’s Aaron Poreda put up eight scoreless innings, fanning six and walking four. Poreda was trying for his first win since getting the decision against the Hanshin Tigers on July 10.

There were only a few scoring chances for either side early on.

The Giants had a golden opportunity to do some damage in the third after Abe drew a walk that loaded the bases with one out. Johnson responded by striking out the next two batters.

The Carp had a number of base runners, but it took until the top of the sixth for any of them to advance past second. Poreda slammed the door shut on a potential scoring chance by retiring Eishin Soyogi with runners on the corners for the third out of the frame.

The Carp are currently in fifth place in the Central League and trying to make up ground. A win over the league leaders was a good start.

“Not only against the Giants; we can’t afford to lose against any team,” Kikuchi said.

Otosaka sparks BayStars

KYODO

Tomo Otosaka slugged a three-run home run to lift the Yokohama BayStars to a 7-4 come-from-behind win over the Hanshin Tigers on Friday.

The BayStars scored seven runs on seven hits at Yokohama Stadium, and Yoshiki Sunada (2-2) pitched five innings and allowed a single run on six hits as Yokohama prevented the Tigers from gaining ground in the Central League pennant race. Hanshin started the day a half-game out of the league lead.

Otosaka turned the game around in the fifth with a three-run homer off Randy Messenger (7-9), and four more runs in the eighth iced the game for the hosts.

Hanshin starter Messenger hadn’t allowed a hit entering the fifth with three walks, but Toshiro Miyazaki doubled for the BayStars’ first hit to lead off the inning and Keijiro Matsumoto walked with two outs before Otosaka clobbered a pitch over the center-field wall.

Yokohama was quiet for the next two innings, but sprung to life again the eighth. Two hits and a walk off Kosuke Kato saw the hosts load the bases, and Koki Yamashita knocked him out with an RBI single. Akira Iwamoto then gave up RBI singles to Aarom Baldiris and Hiroki Minei, and coupled with a wild throw, handed the BayStars a 7-1 lead.

The Tigers led through Mauro Gomez’s RBI single in the first inning, but entered the ninth without adding any runs. Keisuke Kano slugged a two-run homer off Shinji Ohara, and Gomez brought home another with an RBI single, but the Tigers were left to rue the four runs surrendered the eighth.

Dragons 6, Swallows 1

At Nagoya Dome, Drew Naylor (1-0) won his first game since joining Chunichi, allowing just one run on four hits in eight innings against Tokyo Yakult.

The Australian also had his first home run, a solo shot in the fourth off Yakult starter Masato Furuno (4-2).

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 6, Eagles 1

At Sapporo Dome, Brandon Laird opened the scoring for Hokkaido Nippon Ham with his 20th home run of the season in a win over Tohoku Rakuten to snap a four-game losing streak.

Ace pitcher Sho Otani also homered for the Fighters as a pinch hitter, his first since May, while Mitsuo Yoshikawa (8-5) went the distance, giving up one run on five hits.

Marines 6, Hawks 5

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Chiba Lotte’s Alfredo Despaigne went 3-for-4 and hit a three-run shot off Ryota Igarashi (2-1) in the eighth inning against league-leading Fukuoka Softbank.

Hawks starter Rick van den Hurk, the PL’s pitcher of the month for July, was ejected with a 5-2 lead after hitting the leadoff man in the head in the third inning.

Buffaloes 4, Lions 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hiroyuki Nakajima went 3-for-4 with three RBIs against his former team, and Shunta Goto broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth with a sacrifice fly as Orix downed Seibu.

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