The Hiroshima Carp have pretty much dominated the Yomiuri Giants this season.
They met for the ninth time this year on Friday night, and the reigning Central League champion Carp didn’t have any trouble maintaining the status quo.
Akitake Okada held down the Giants for seven innings and got plenty of run support in the Carp’s 7-2 victory in front of a crowd of 43,880 at Tokyo Dome.
“I was able to give it my all,” Okada said after the game.
Hiroshima has won its last five meetings against Yomiuri, and is 8-1 against the Giants overall this season. For Okada, who is in his second season, it was his first victory over the Kyojin at Tokyo Dome.
“I’m happy, he said.
The Carp’s win, coupled with the Yokohama BayStars’ victory over the Hanshin Tigers, pulled Hiroshima into a tie with Hanshin atop the CL.
“We’ll keep doing our best and giving our all game by game,” Okada said.
Okada held the Giants to one run on six hits in his seven innings on the mound. He struck out six and walked one batter.
He improved to 5-1 on the year, already giving him more wins than he had as a rookie, when he finished 4-3.
“It’s still May, I’ll try to keep doing my best to keep winning,” he said.
Ryosuke Kikuchi went 3-for-5, including a solo home run, with a pair of RBIs for the Carp. Tomohiro Abe also drove in two runs, while Seiya Suzuki, Yoshihiro Maru and Ryuhei Matsuyama had an RBI apiece.
The Giants’ Miles Mikolas (4-3) struck out 10, but allowed five runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings and was charged with the loss.
The Kyojin‘s offense came from an RBI single by Shingo Ishikawa and a run-scoring double from Hayato Sakamoto.
The Carp broke the ice in the fourth inning, with defensive wizard Kikuchi making noise at the plate with his solo home run, his third of the year, to lead off the frame.
Abe put more runs on the board with a two-run single in the sixth. Matsuyama then drove Abe in with an RBI hit to right to make the score 4-0.
Hiroshima pushed its advantage to five runs after a sacrifice fly by Suzuki in the seventh.
Ishikawa drove in a run for the Giants in the bottom of the seventh to make the score 5-1.
Kikuchi hit an infield single that scored a run in the eighth, sliding into first head-first as Shota Dobayashi crossed home plate. Maru followed with a grounder to second, which brought in a another run.
Yomiuri captain Sakamoto made it 7-2 with an RBI double in the eighth, but that was as close as the Giants would get.
The teams return to Tokyo Dome for the second game of their three-game set on Saturday night. Aren Kuri (3-4) will take the mound for the Carp, with the Giants sending Ryosuke Miyaguni (0-4) to the hill.
BayStars offense comes alive in sixth
Nishinomiya, Hyogo Pref. Shoichi Ino (2-3) didn’t allow a hit until an inning after he and his Yokohama BayStars teammates scored five times in the sixth off Hanshin Tigers starter Shintaro Fujinami (3-3) and reliever Suguru Iwazaki in the BayStars’ 5-2 win on Friday in the Central League.
Ino, batting eighth, added a one-out RBI single in the seventh.
Dragons 3, Swallows 2
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi scored three runs after its first two batters were retired in the ninth by Yakult closer Ryo Akiyoshi (4-3).
Alex Guerrero drove in Yohei Oshima and Dayan Viciedo with an RBI single, and pinch runner Masahiro Araki scored the game winner on Atsushi Fujii’s walk-off double.
Lions 5, Eagles 1
At Sendai’s Kobo Park, Yusei Kikuchi allowed a run in eight innings, setting the stage for Seibu’s come-from-behind victory over PL-leading Tohoku Rakuten.
Kikuchi, who is from neighboring Iwate Prefecture, gave up four hits and two walks, while striking out nine. The lefty improved to 5-2, while Seibu became the only PL team with a winning record (4-3) against Rakuten.
The Lions offense was stymied through six innings by lefty Yudai Mori, who surrendered some hard-hit balls directly at his fielders and only allowed three hits and a walk. Frank Herrmann worked a scoreless seventh to protect a slim 1-0 lead.
But rookie right-hander Kohei Morihara (1-3) gave the game away in a five-run eighth. After a leadoff walk, Seibu bunted the runner into scoring position.
Three-time Golden Glove-winning second baseman Kazuya Fujita saved a run by keeping Shogo Akiyama’s one-out single in the infield, but a bizarre play allowed the Lions to tie it and Morihara never recovered. Rookie Sosuke Genda tried a safety squeeze but popped the ball up. Morihara dove for the ball that dropped fair, but only served to block first baseman Ginji Akaminai from getting an out.
The runner scored from third, and Lions captain Hideto Asamura hit a booming double into the gap in left to drive in two.
“It looked like this was going to be our only chance to take the lead, so I was happy I could do something,” said Asamura after the third-place Lions won their fifth straight. “The best thing is being able to contribute to a win.
“Each and every player is doing his job and that’s the key.”
Ernesto Mejia was then walked with first base open. Takumi Kuriyama followed with a two-run double over the head of right fielder Carlos Peguero.
The Eagles took the lead in the fourth, when Zelous Wheeler singled and scored on a two-out Kazuo Matsui single.
Fighters 7, Hawks 5
At Sapporo Dome, Brandon Laird homered and doubled, scored twice and drove in four runs to power Hokkaido Nippon Ham past Fukuoka SoftBank.
The Hawks took a 3-0 lead on Alfredo Despaigne’s third home run in three games, a two-run shot in the first.
Marines 5, Buffaloes 4
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Chiba Lotte starter Hideaki Wakui blew a four-run, eighth-inning lead, but the Marines walked off in the ninth on Ikuhiro Kiyota’s two-out sayonara single off Orix closer Yoshihisa Hirano (1-3).
The Buffaloes dropped their eighth straight game.