Seiya Suzuki hit a game-tying home run and the Hiroshima Carp capitalized on an eighth-inning error in a 6-1 series-sweeping win over the Yomiuri Giants on Sunday afternoon.
Before 45,552 at Tokyo Dome, Suzuki tied it 1-1 in the seventh with a solo homer off Giants starter Kazuto Taguchi, and the visitors took a two-run lead against right-hander Scott Mathieson (3-7) in the eighth. With a runner on second and no outs after Tsubasa Aizawa’s leadoff double, a sacrifice bunt led to the tying run when Mathieson’s throw to first was wild.
“He threw a lot of sliders early on, so from my second time up, I began looking for them, and I got what I was looking for,” said Suzuki, who went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice in the ninth.
Taguchi, a 20-year-old rookie, showed what a pitcher can do with pinpoint location. Despite having just a 130 kph fastball, the 171-cm lefty gave Carp hitters fits by putting almost every pitch where he wanted and mixing up his deliveries. Starting with a fastball, slider mix, Taguchi went more and more to a splitter — that he calls his changeup — and a good curve as the game went on.
Taguchi allowed a run on four hits and a walk over seven innings, while striking out eight in a 116-pitch effort. Although less artful, Carp starter Yuya Fukui (7-3) was just as effective as the Giants youngster, allowing a run on three hits and four walks, while striking out seven.
“It was big to win a three-game series at this part of the season,” said Fukui. “What matters now is continuing this from tomorrow.
“If I gave up a run, I had to make sure I didn’t give up the next one.”
The Giants took their first lead of the weekend on a pair of balls hit high off the wall in right. After five of the first six Giants had made out against Fukui, Shuichi Murata hit a high 1-1 fastball off the wall for a leadoff double in the third. With two outs and Murata at third, Soichiro Tateoka pulled an inside fastball high off the wall that went for a triple.
After six innings of frustration, the Carp tied it with two outs and none on in the seventh. Suzuki stayed back on a hanging 0-1 slider and drilled it deep into the stands among the red-clad Carp supporters in left. Although the pitcher looked impressed by Suzuki’s drive, he quickly went back to business and escaped the inning with his eighth strikeout of the afternoon.
With parity restored, Fukui put himself under pressure by issuing a leadoff walk. But despite a wild pitch, a passed ball and another walk, a big strike out of Murata on a 3-2 forkball out of the zone allowed the right-hander to get away scot-free and leave with a victory.
“I was too worried about giving up a home run,” Fukui said of the walks he issued.
Mathieson took the mound for the Giants and Aizawa doubled off the hard-throwing right-hander’s fourth pitch. Pinch hitter Shogo Kimura laid down a good sacrifice that advanced the runner, but Mathieson’s throw sailed and Masato Akamatsu sped home to score. Kimura was sacrificed to second and, with two outs, Jesus Guzman packed Mathieson’s bags with a triple to the wall in center.
Hiroshima’s Daichi Osera struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth, and the Carp padded their lead in the ninth. Ryosuke Miyaguni walked two batters before leaving. Chiaki Tone walked to load the bases with two outs, and Shoki Kasahara allowed all three runners to score. Ryosuke Kikuchi walked one run in and Yoshihiro Maru singled in two more.
Swallows 5, Dragons 4 (11)
At Nagoya Dome, Mitch Dening’s sacrifice fly tied it in the ninth inning as Tokyo Yakult overcame a late 4-2 deficit to win on a Chunichi error in the 11th inning. The win lifted the Swallows into second place in the CL.
Tigers 3, BayStars 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Mauro Gomez scored two runs and drove in two, with his 13th home run, while closer Oh Seung-hwang allowed two runs on three hits in the ninth but held on for the save as Hanshin beat the BayStars.
Lions 9, Buffaloes 0
At Kyocera Dome, Seibu rookie Kona Takahashi (1-1) claimed his first career win after allowing a hit and five walks in 5⅓ shutout innings. Takeya Nakamura hit an NPB record 16th career grand slam in the eighth, moving past Japan’s all-time home run king Sadaharu Oh in the win over Orix.
Fighters 5, Eagles 2
At Sapporo Dome, Brandon Laird went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs, two on an eighth-inning triple after Sho Nakata put Hokkaido Nippon Ham in front in a win over Orix that clinched a three-game sweep.
Hawks 3, Marines 1
At QVC Marine Field, Hayato Terahara (7-0) held Chiba Lotte to a run on five hits over eight innings, striking out six without a walk. Seiichi Uchikawa singled in a run in the first inning off Yuta Omine (5-5), before Lee Dae-ho’s solo shot and Shinya Tsuruoka’s sac fly added two more in the fourth.
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