YOKOHAMA – Elian Herrera tied it with an eighth-inning double and Masayuki Kuwahara played the hero for the second straight day to lift the Yokohama BayStars to a 7-6 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Saturday.
Before 28,446 at Yokohama Stadium, the Giants twice took the lead behind right-hander Miles Mikolas, who was making his belated 2016 debut after going 13-3 with a 1.92 ERA last year. But the BayStars kept coming back, with Herrera and Kuwahara finishing the job against Scott Mathieson (6-1).
Trailing by a run, right-hander Mike Zagurski weathered a pair of one-out singles in the seventh, and followed with a 1-2-3 eighth to earn his first win in Japan. Yasuaki Yamasaki closed it out in the ninth with his 17th save to seal the BayStars’ fourth straight win.
“We had a lot of good at-bats the whole game, and Elian and Kuwa were able to get some big hits for us. We scored a couple of runs and turned it over to Yasu,” said Zagurski, who had a 2.40 ERA last season in 19 games for the Hiroshima Carp.
In the bottom of the eighth, Mathieson gave up a leadoff single before a fluke infield single put two on with no outs for Herrera. After failing to get a sacrifice bunt down, Herrera saw a succession of fastballs, but was able to stay back on an inside slider and hook it into the right-field corner to make it a 7-7 game.
The hard-throwing right-hander got two easy outs before Kuwahara, who drove in six runs the night before, lined an 0-1 fastball to put Yokohama in front.
“This was one of our best games so far this year,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said. “(Kuwahara) didn’t hit early, but once again in the last three at bats he was clutch, coming through again.”
Yokohama sent May pitcher of the month Kenta Ishida to the mound. The lefty surrendered two no-out singles before one scored on Hisayoshi Chono’s one-out double. The inning ended when right fielder Takayuki Kajitani gunned down Yasuyuki Kataoka at the plate after a flyout.
A throwing error by first baseman Shinnosuke Abe led to two runs in the BayStars’ second, and Ishida drove in another with a picture-perfect safety squeeze, but the Giants tied it in the fourth on a long two-run homer by former BayStar Shuichi Murata.
Trailing by one in the sixth, Yomiuri rapped out three one-out singles. The bullpen allowed all three to score, but the Giants would get no more, and Herrera cut the deficit to a run, when he tripled and scored in the bottom of the sixth.
Carp 4, Tigers 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima won eight straight for the first time in 15 years after rookie Akitake Okada (1-2) held Hanshin to two runs in six-plus innings for his first career win.
Ko Shimozuru had three hits, including a bases-loaded single in the third and an RBI double in the fifth off Atsushi Nomi (4-6).
Former Chicago Cubs All-Star Kosuke Fukudome, who now plays for the Tigers, went 2-for-4 to reach 2,000 hits in his career in Japan and the majors.
“It (2,000) is an amazing figure, but nothing more than that,” Fukudome told a news conference. “I never set this figure as a target, and didn’t think I’d reach it.
“I’m now done with chasing individual numbers. My main goal is wins for the team.”
Swallows 13, Dragons 9
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tokyo Yakult outslugged Chunichi with 20 hits and Tetsuto Yamada had his CL-leading 25th homer, a three-run shot in the first off Jordan Norberto (4-2) as he went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Wladimir Balentien also went deep for the 16th time this year, finishing 3-for-5 with three RBIs.
Fighters 10, Buffaloes 8
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s Yang Dai-kang went deep for two runs in the first before slugging a three-run homer in the third off Orix’s Takahiro Matsuba (2-3).
Kohei Arihara (7-3) earned the win after allowing two runs in five innings.
The Buffaloes lost their fifth straight.
Eagles 4, Hawks 2
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten tagged Fukuoka SoftBank’s Nao Higashihama (5-1) with his first loss of the year after Zelous Wheeler’s solo shot and pinch hitter Shintaro Masuda’s two-run blast off the right-hander in the seventh saw the Eagles rallyfrom two runs down.