YOKOHAMA – Masayuki Kuwahara smashed a tie-breaking, two-run, eighth-inning triple to lift the Yokohama BayStars to a 5-3 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.
Before 28,939 at packed Yokohama Stadium, the BayStars overcame three solo homers by the Swallows, tying the score at 3-3 in the seventh on a Yoshitomo Tsutsugo RBI single.
With the Swallows’ bullpen depleted by injury, journeyman right-hander Kazuki Kondo got two outs in the seventh to keep the BayStars from taking the lead. In the eighth, however, he surrendered a leadoff single to Yasutaka Tobashira and hit No. 9 hitter Toshihiko Kuramoto with two outs.
Facing new reliever Josh Lueke with the outfield pulled in for a play at the plate, Kuwahara drilled a 1-1 pitch to the gap in left that easily skipped to the wall and plated two runs.
“I was really relieved when it found the gap,” Kuwahara said. “He (manager Alex Ramirez) asks me to be a spark plug for the team, and that’s what I try to do every game.”
With the lead in the bag, closer Yasuaki Yamasaki worked a scoreless ninth to earn his 15th save and consign the Swallows to their 13th straight loss.
BayStars starter Kenta Ishida allowed a walk and two hits — solo homers to Wladimir Balentien and Tetsuto Yamada — but did not figure in the decision.
After Balentien’s first homer opened the scoring in the second, Toshiro Miyazaki tied it with a home run in the bottom of the inning off Yakult lefty Masanori Ishikawa. Kuwahara, who went 3-for-4, opened the third with a walk and scored on a two-out Jose Lopez single.
The Swallows reclaimed the lead, however, on Yamada’s 14th homer in the sixth and Balentien’s 14th in the seventh. But a Kuramoto double and a Kuwahara single set the table for Tsutsugo to tie it in the bottom of the seventh.
Kuwahara then decided the game in the eighth, handing the win to reliever Spencer Patton (4-3) who worked a scoreless eighth.
Giants 6, Dragons 5
At Nagoya Dome, Casey McGehee went 5-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs and Daikan Yoh hit a three-run, first-inning homer as Yomiuri held on to beat Chunichi and hand rookie Seishu Hatake (1-0) his first pro win.
Carp 14, Tigers 3
At Nishinomiya’s Koshien Stadium, league-leading Hiroshima overcame a two-run deficit before scoring 12 runs over the final three innings to rout Hanshin behind a four-RBI night from leadoff man Kosuke Tanaka.
Hawks 10, Lions 6
At Kitakyushu Municipal Stadium, Seiji Uebayashi’s eighth-inning RBI single snapped a 6-6 tie and gave Fukuoka SoftBank its final lead of the night in a win over Seibu.
The Lions’ Takeya Nakamura became the 30th player in Nippon Professional Baseball with 350 career home runs when he hit his 20th of the season in the fifth.
Eagles 3, Fighters 2
At Sapporo Dome, Zelous Wheeler reached 20 homers for the second straight season and scored twice as Takayuki Kishi (8-3) threw seven scoreless innings in Tohoku Rakuten’s win over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
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