The Yomiuri Giants overturned a five-run deficit against a nemesis to beat the Chunichi Dragons 9-5, complete a three-game sweep Sunday.
Before 45,700 at Tokyo Dome, Shuichi Murata broke a 5-5 tie in the fifth by taking a high fastball away over the right-field wall for an opposite field homer, to give a one-run Giants lead against rookie Shunta Wakamatsu (7-3), who beat them both times they had faced him.
Tomoya Inzen, a career minor leaguer batting for the first time this season, tied the game against the right-hander with a two-run, pinch-hit single that capped Yomiuri’s five-run third inning.
Inzen was sent in to bat against Wakamatsu, who was — until that point — on course to win his fifth game of the month.
“I only knew what information they gave me about him,” said Inzen, who smashed a 3-2 changeup so hard off first baseman Nobumasa Fukuda’s glove that two runs scored. “I knew he had a good changeup and that’s what I was looking for. My goal was to avoid striking out, so I wanted to stay back so I could get my bat on his slow stuff.
“I really want to win a pennant, so I’m so happy I could contribute. I was quite nervous, but I also believed I was up to the task.”
The Dragons had opened the scoring in the third off lefty Kazuto Taguchi by exploiting poor control and poor defense, with Kazuhiro Wada’s three-run homer capping a five-run rally that shouldn’t have happened.
The visitors were gifted a leadoff “double” when first baseman Shinnosuke Abe neglected to pick up a roller down the line and things only got worse.
Two walks loaded the bases, allowing one run to score on a force-out at third. A second run scored on an error charged to Murata, when Abe failed to catch his throw from third for the final out.
With Wakamatsu having had little trouble in his previous 15 innings against the Giants, five runs looked a safe lead, but Yomiuri batted the rookie around in the bottom of the inning.
Yasuyuki Kataoka teed off on a 3-1 fastball down the pipe with one out, and the next four batters singled. A bases-loaded walk by Murata made it a 5-3 game before Inzen’s hot shot tied it.
“My pitches were high today. My fastball can’t survive up in the zone, and I was unable to make the adjustment,” said Wakamatsu.
After two effective innings from Dragons right-hander Daisuke Yamai, Chunichi’s opening day starter, Takuya Asao took the mound in the eighth and the Giants piled on three more runs.
Kataoka went deep with one out for his second homer before Hayato Sakamoto followed with a single, Abe doubling him home. Abe went to third on the throw home and scored on a two-out wild pitch.
Right-hander Seiji Tahara (1-0), the Giants’ second pitcher, earned the win for two innings of solid relief.
BayStars 8, Carp 4
At Yokohama Stadium, the BayStars knocked out Hiroshima starter Takaya Toda (3-1) in a five-run third inning, when Yokohama reeled off six-straight two-out hits.
Swallows 11, Tigers 8
At Koshien Stadium, Shohei Tateyama (4-2) allowed a run in five innings and had two hits, including a three-run home run as Tokyo Yakult held on to beat Hanshin for the second straight night and moved to within one game of the first-place Tigers.
Fighters 2, Hawks 2 (12)
At Yafuoku Dome, Yuki Yoshimura tied the game with a two-run pinch-hit single in the seventh after Hokkaido Nippon Ham opened the scoring in the top of the inning.
Fighters starter Masaru Nakamura allowed just three hits through 6⅔ innings, but was matched by Hawks starter Jason Standridge.
Marines 5, Buffaloes 4
At QVC Marine Field, Yuta Omine (7-6) allowed two runs in five-plus innings as Chiba Lotte beat up on Orix starter Kazumasa Yoshida (0-5) for five runs in 2⅓ innings to win its third straight.
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