Two games against the Hiroshima Carp, two big hits for Yomiuri Giants infielder Shuichi Murata.
Murata made a few nifty plays with his glove at third base and put the Kyojin ahead with a tiebreaking single in the eighth to help lift the Giants to a 2-1 victory over the Carp in front of a Sunday afternoon crowd of 44,569 at Tokyo Dome.
“It was a little difficult for me to concentrate today because I was born in Fukuoka,” Murata said, referring to the series of earthquakes that have affected the Kyushu area since late Thursday night.
The Giants swept the two-game set against Hiroshima and head into an unexpected four-day break on a positive note as far as things on the field are concerned. The team was due to be off on April 18 and 21 and recently had scheduled games on April 19 and 20, in Kumamoto and Kagoshima, called off due to the earthquakes.
The contest was tied entered the bottom of the eighth, when Luis Cruz began the frame with a single. Takahiro Suzuki replaced Cruz on the basepaths and stole second. He advanced to third on a groundout by Yoshiyuki Kamei and scored when Murata deposited a single in center.
“I just wanted to get Suzuki home and give us the lead,” Murata said. “I saw a pitch I liked and was glad I could get a hit.”
Closer Hirokazu Sawamura retired the first two batters he faced, including Brad Eldred, who had a 16-game hitting streak snapped, in the ninth. Seiya Suzuki kept the Carp alive with a double to left, but Sawamura bounced back by retiring Tsubasa Aizawa to end the game.
Murata, who homered in the first game of the series on Saturday, finished 1-for-4. He also made a diving stop at third to rob Shota Dobayashi of his first hit of the season and was generally solid in the field all game.
“I prepare myself every day, so I can be the best I can be at bat and in the field,” he said.
Yomiuri second baseman Yasuyuki Kataoka had a three-hit day that included his first home run of the season.
“Our young pitcher (starter Nobutaka) Imamura was pitching well, so I’m glad I was able to give him the lead,” Kataoka said, referring to his shot in the third that put Yomiuri ahead 1-0. “I think it gave him confidence and he kept pitching so well. It’s too bad we could not get him the victory.”
The win went to reliever Scott Mathieson (2-0) who struck out a pair in two scoreless innings. Sawamura’s save was his fifth of the season. Imamura, who didn’t factor into the decision, tossed 5⅔ innings of one-run ball, allowed three hits, struck out four and walked two.
Hiroshima’s Jay Jackson (0-2), who allowed Murata’s hit in the eighth, was charged with the loss. Starter Yuya Fukui pitched around a rough first inning to allow only one run in seven innings. Ryosuke Kikuchi drove in the Carp’s lone run with his second home run of the season and finished 2-for-4.
The Giants nearly began the game with a bang, as Kataoka singled with one out, Garrett Jones drew a walk with two away and Cruz was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Kamei then latched onto a 145-kph fastball and sent a drive to right that would’ve brought in two, if not three, runs had Seiya Suzuki not made a leaping grab against the wall.
Kataoka got the Giants on the board with his solo homer in the third.
The 1-0 advantage held up until the top of the sixth, when Kikuchi took Imamura for a ride.
Things stayed that way until the Giants broke through in the eighth.
Swallows beat BayStars
The Tokyo Yakult Swallows overturned a two-run, ninth-inning deficit against Japan and Yokohama closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-1) thanks to an error and RBI singles by Naomichi Nishiura and Yuhei Nakamura to beat the BayStars 5-4 at Botchan Stadium on Sunday.
Dragons 4, Tigers 2 (10)
At Nagoya Dome, Dayan Viciedo’s sixth home run of the season broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 10th as Chunichi walked off in a win over Hanshin.
Marines 5, Fighters 3 (10)
At Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham tied it in the ninth with Kensuke Kondo’s RBI single but Chiba Lotte scored three off closer Hirotoshi Masui (0-1) in the 10th, Takuya Takahama breaking the tie with a single and Tatsuhiro Tamura singling in two.
Buffaloes 5, Lions 2
At Hotto Motto Field, Yuki Nishi (1-3) allowed a run in six innings and Takuya Shimada hit a tie-breaking, three-run homer off Andy Van Hekken (0-3) in the fourth to power Orix past Seibu.
Hawks 9, Eagles 7 (12)
At Yafuoku Dome, Yuki Yoshimura homered twice to snatch an unlikely Fukuoka SoftBank victory. Yoshimura tied it with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth with a three-run, pinch-hit homer off Tohoku Rakuten closer Yuki Matsui. Yoshimura then won it in the 12th with a two-run shot.
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