You may get the Hiroshima Carp down, but never, ever count them out.
Especially not with the way they’re swinging the bats right now.
Ryuhei Matsuyama led off the ninth with game-tying home run, Yoshihiro Maru broke the stalemate with a two-run single and the Carp tacked on four more runs during the inning to extend their unbeaten run to 11 games with a come-from-behind 11-5 victory over the Yomiuri Giants on Thursday at Tokyo Dome.
“When Matsuyama hit the game-tying home run, it gave us the confidence we were going to win,” Maru said.
The Carp have won 10 of their last 11 games, the lone blemish a tie against the Chunichi Dragons on April 5. They’ve won seven straight since then, including sweeps of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and now the Giants. Their only loss was to the Hanshin Tigers on Opening Day.
“Our pitchers and batters have been great since the season began,” Maru said. “We’re taking it one day, one game, one win at a time.”
It looked as if the streak might end on Thursday. The Carp led 4-0 after the first inning, but a few timely hits by Yomiuri’s Casey McGehee and 5 2/3 no-hit innings of relief by Hayato Takagi helped Yomiuri take a 5-4 lead by the fifth inning.
The Carp were down to their final three outs when Matsuyama sent Arquimedes Caminero’s first pitch of the ninth into the seats in right field to tie the game at 5-5. The Carp put the potential tiebreaking run on when Kosuke Tanaka drew a walk.
Hiroshima manager Koichi Ogata was playing for one run when Caminero made a fielding error on Ryosuke Kikichi’s sacrifice bunt attempt and left the Carp with runners on second and third with no outs. Maru cleared the bases with his tiebreaking single.
“After I got the hit, I saw where both runners scored, so we had a two-run lead and I saw everyone on our bench was celebrating,” Maru said. “It felt good.”
Tomohiro Abe singled in another run to make it 8-5, and Yoshiyuki Ishihara blew the game open with a three-run home run.
The Carp ran their season-total for runs scored to an NPB-best 80. No other team has more than 54.
“I think it should be expected,” said Brad Eldred, who drove in a run during the first inning. “I think we have a good lineup. I don’t think it’s a surprise by any means.”
The Carp slugger made sure to also praise the contribution the team’s pitchers have made to the current unbeaten streak.
“The pitching has been one of the biggest keys,” Eldred said. “They’ve been doing a great job. I think we’re going to put up the runs every game.”
The winning pitcher on Thursday was Ryan Brasier, who is in his first year in Japan and earned his first NPB victory after throwing a scoreless inning of relief.
“It’s awesome to get the win, but it’s better that the team won,” Brasier said. “I don’t care about the accolades I get. I just want the team to win. Luckily I was the pitcher who threw the inning before we scored all the runs.”
The Carp scored all their runs in the first and ninth innings. Takahiro Arai, Seiya Suzuki, Eldred and Tetsuya Kokubo drove in a run apiece in the first inning.
McGehee hit a two-run home run and drove in another with a double on a 2-for-4 night for Yomiuri. Shinnosuke Abe accounted for the team’s other runs with an RBI double in the first and a run-scoring single in the fifth.
Mitsuo Yoshikawa’s first start at Tokyo Dome in a Giants uniform lasted less than two innings. He was pulled with one out in the second after allowing four runs on seven hits. Takagi struck out five and allowed his only base runners on two walks and a hit batter.
Caminero was charged with the loss after giving up six runs — two earned — in the ninth.
Swallows end six-game slide
David Buchanon allowed two runs in eight innings, and Atsushi Ugumori’s two-out sayonara single in the ninth lifted Tokyo Yakult past the Chunichi Dragons 3-2 on Thursday at Jingu Stadium, snapping the Swallows’ six-game losing streak.
Tigers 4, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Hanshin scored three ninth-inning runs off Yokohama closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-1), with Shun Takayama’s one-out RBI single breaking a 1-1 tie.
A second run scored on a passed ball, and Hiroki Uemoto followed with an RBI single.
Tigers starter Shintaro Fujinami (1-1) allowed a run in eight innings for the win.
Fighters 3, Hawks 2
At Sapporo Dome, former Cleveland Indians and Yomiuri Giants farmhand Toru Murata made his first NPB start and allowed a run in four innings.
Murata didn’t figure in the decision for Hokkaido Nippon Ham, which scored three runs off Fukuoka SoftBank starter Rick van den Hurk (0-2) in 4-2/3 innings.
Marines 3, Buffaloes 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yuji Nishino (1-1) allowed a run in six innings, and Kei Hosoya overturned a one-run deficit with a three-run, seventh-inning homer to lift Chiba Lotte past Orix.