HIROSHIMA – Rookie Ko Shimozuru hit a game-tying, two-run, pinch-hit homer, and Seiya Suzuki drove in the winning run with a home run for the third straight day as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Orix Buffaloes 5-4 on Sunday in interleague.
The win was the sixth straight for the Central League-leading Carp, who wrapped up interleague play with an 11-6 record.
The 21-year-old Suzuki, Hiroshima’s second draft pick out of high school in 2012, ended the first two games of the series at Mazda Stadium with walk-off homers, but this time he got his chance in the eighth. Leading off against Orix lefty Sachiya Yamasaki (1-1), Suzuki launched a 1-2 pitch over the second deck in left for his 10th homer of the year.
In the sixth, with two outs and a man on third, Shimozuru was sent in to pinch hit against Orix’s third pitcher of the inning, right-hander Hirokazu Shiranita. Shimozuru, the Carp’s fourth pick in the same 2012 draft that snagged Suzuki, hit 14 home runs last season in the Western League, and had been hitting .356 in 17 games this season.
The 28-year-old Shimozuru, who played corporate league ball after finishing university and still qualifies as a rookie due to his limited first-team playing time, pounded a 3-1 fastball out to left to tie it. It was his first homer with the big club.
“I’m in my fourth year, and I’ve been working hard. Every day I’ve been giving it my all, clinging to the belief I’d get called up and get a chance to contribute,” Shimozuru said.
“Suzuki and I joined the team at the same time, and I thought then, ‘What a good player he is.’ So much so, that I refer to him as Mr. Suzuki.”
The Buffaloes jumped out to a four-run lead against Carp lefty Kyohei Nakamura on a two-run home run by Brent Morel in the first and a two-run single by Orix pitcher Brandon Dickson.
Two singles, two walks and an error allowed the Carp to score twice in the fifth off Dickson, who was charged with two runs, one earned in five innings.
Hawks 8, Tigers 4
At Koshien Stadium, Fukuoka SoftBank wrapped up its sixth interleague championship, breaking a scoreless tie against Hanshin in the fifth inning when Kenta Imamiya drew a bases-loaded walk and 13th-year career minor leaguer Ryuma Kidokoro followed with his seventh career home run and his sixth of the season, a grand slam.
Kidokoro went 2-for-4 to raise his batting average to .359. He entered the game as a career .209 hitter with the first team.
Fighters 3, Dragons 2
At Nagoya Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s Shohei Otani (6-4) fanned 12 and held Chunichi to two hits in eight shutout innings en route to winning his fifth straight start. Batting in the fifth spot, Otani went 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI and broke a scoreless tie against Chunichi ace Kazuki Yoshimi (3-2) in the sixth, when he scored from first on a Brandon Laird double.
Lions 7, Swallows 5
At Yokohama Stadium, Takumi Kuriyama hit a bases-loaded sac fly to break the tie in the sixth off Tokyo Yakult’s second reliever, Kyohei Muranaka (3-2), and Tomoya Mori singled in his third RBI of the game as Seibu snapped its five-game skid. Swallows slugger Tetsuto Yamada hit his 23rd homer.
Giants 5, Marines 1
At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri captain Hayato Sakamoto broke the ice with a first-inning RBI double and hit another in the eighth. Chiba Lotte’s seven-game winning streak came to a halt as four Giants relievers held the visitors to three hits over six innings.
Eagles 5, BayStars 3
At Yokohama Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten’s Zelous Wheeler hit his fourth homer in five games with a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth off Yokohama’s Shun Yamaguchi (5-3), who had thrown shutouts in his previous two starts.