Yoshitomo Tsutsugo might not have gotten a chance to win the game in the 10th, but he wasn’t going to be denied in the 12th.

The red-hot Yokohama BayStars slugger hit a sayonara home run in the bottom of the 12th to lift his team to a 3-2 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Friday night at Yokohama Stadium.

“I was just trying to get a hit. I knew (Jose) Lopez was behind me if I couldn’t,” Tsutsugo said. “I’m happy I was able hit a home run.”

The Giants pitched around Tsutsugo with two runners on in the 10th, but he came back around in the final inning.

He stepped to the plate with one out against Giants reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi. After working the count full, Tsutsugo connected on a 142-kph fastball and there were no doubts it was headed over the wall in right. It was his second home run of the game, giving him 28 on the season.

The blast also gave the Yokohama star his third consecutive two-homer game.

“He’s very hot right now,” said BayStars manager Alex Ramirez. “Nobody is hotter than he is right now. I’ve never seen that before, three games with two home runs. I’m very happy that I got to see it.”

Tsutsugo finished 4-for-5 with the two homers and three RBIs.

“The most important thing is we won the game,” Tsutsugo said.

The BayStars won their third straight and also snapped a four-game losing streak against the Giants.

The game featured a matchup of pitchers who started for the Central League during last week’s All-Star Series. The Giants’ Tomoyuki Sugano got the ball for Game 1 in Fukuoka while the BayStars’ Kenta Ishida started Game 2 in his home park.

Neither factored into the decision Friday night. Ishida threw seven innings of one-run ball, striking out seven, allowing three hits and walking none.

“Ishida was very good,” Ramirez said. “He pitched seven innings, threw 85 pitches and had seven strikeouts. He only gave up the one run and after that we went to the relievers, but he did a tremendous job.”

Yokohama’s Mike Zagurski (2-0) earned the win in relief, while Yamaguchi (0-4) was charged with the loss.

Sugano allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings. He struck out eight and walked one. He didn’t fare well against Tsutsugo, who singled, doubled and homered against the Kyojin ace.

“I think he’s the No. 1 pitcher in the Central League,” Tsutsugo said. “Today I happened to get some hits off him.”

The Kyojin managed just four hits on the night. Hisayoshi Chono was one of the bright spots, connecting on his fifth home run of the season, a shot to left-center that was upheld by replay review, in the seventh. Yomiuri’s Shinnosuke Abe went 1-for-5, snapping a streak of three consecutive games with at least two hits.

Tsutsugo drove in the first run of the night with an RBI single in the first inning. He put another run on the board in the sixth with his first home run of the night, making the score 2-0.

Chono pulled the Giants within a run with his homer in the seventh.

Garret Jones drew a walk to begin the Giants’ half of the eighth and was lifted for pinch runner Takahiro Suzuki. BayStars reliever Tomoya Mikami fielded a sacrifice bunt attempt by Seiji Kobayashi and fired to first, but Takahiro Ishikawa dropped the ball, and the speedy Suzuki advanced to third. The next batter, pinch hitter Ryuji Aikawa, tied the score with a sacrifice fly.

Tatsuya Shimozono walked to start the bottom of the 10th. Masayuki Kurawara moved the runner over with a sacrifice bunt, and Elian Herrera drew a walk. Giants reliever Hirokazu Sawamura then retired Kajitani and pitched around Tsutsugo to load the bases with two outs. The Yomiuri hurler then struck out former teammate Jose Lopez to end the threat.

The two teams meet for the second game of their series on Saturday afternoon in Yokohama.

Balentien blasts 18th HR


Wladimir Balentien hit his 18th home run of the season with a solo shot in the third in the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ 6-3 victory over the Chunichi Dragons on Friday.

The Swallows’ Naomichi Nishiura also went deep to clear the bases in the fifth off the Dragons’ Raul Valdes (4-3). Shohei Tateyama (1-2) allowed two runs over five innings en route to his first win of the season.

Carp 4, Tigers 2

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima starter Yusuke Nomura (12-2) pitched six innings of one-run ball to post his eighth consecutive win, matching his single-season personal best of 12 to lead both leagues in wins.

The Carp hit all four of runs off Shintaro Fujinami (4-6), who lost his last four decisions.


Eagles 12, Marines 1

At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Ayumu Ishikawa fell one out short of a shutout but held Tohoku Rakuten to a run on five hits as Chiba Lotte romped to a one-sided triumph.

Ishikawa (10-3), backed by the Marines offense that scored nine runs through the fourth inning, fanned seven while issuing a walk and a hit batsman in 118 pitches. He surrendered his only run with two outs in the ninth to a solo homer from Toshiaki Imae, but reached double digits for the third straight year since his debut.

The 28-year-old right-hander leads the PL in wins alongside the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ Kohei Arihara and Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks’ Tsuyoshi Wada, both of whom notched up a win on the day and share the 10-3 record.

“My team got me lots of runs early and I was pitching relaxed,” said Ishikawa. “I’m happy but it doesn’t feel like I’ve won 10 games. I feel I need to work harder.”

Rakuten starter Manabu Mima (6-4) allowed nine runs on 14 hits over six innings, walking two and striking out three as the Eagles succumbed to their third straight defeat.

The right-hander allowed a one-out double in the second to Kazuya Fukuura, who went 3-for-3 on the day, before issuing a walk and giving up a two-out, two-run double to Tatsuhiro Tamura for the opening runs.

Alfredo Despaigne doubled and Fukuura singled to drive in a run each in the third before five straight base hits in the fourth made it 7-0, and the pair plated a run each with one-out singles before the end of the inning.

Takashi Ogino, who had a two-run single in the inning, hit a two-run shot in the seventh off reliever Fumiya Ono and an error from Eagles catcher Motohiro Shima let in the Marines’ 12th run.

Fighters 2, Buffaloes 0

At Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s Arihara threw seven shutout innings for his fifth straight win and Brandon Laird broke the ice with an RBI single in the fourth off Orix’s Takahiro Matsuba (3-5), who allowed two-runs in seven-plus innings.

Hawks 5, Lions 2,

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Wada held Seibu to two runs over seven innings, Kenta Imamiya hit a tie-breaking solo shot in the fifth and Shinya Tsuruoka drove in two runs in the sixth to help PL-leading Fukuoka claim the win.


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