Yuhei Takai belted two homers and drove in the winning run with a 10th-inning, bases-loaded walk as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows defeated the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 4-3 in interleague action on Thursday.
Takai, who had two homers in a game for the first time since Sept. 29, 2014, ended the game when lefty Livan Moinelo (3-1) missed with a 3-1 pitch for his third walk of the inning.
Pinch hitter Tsuyoshi Ueda drew a leadoff walk. With two outs, Shingo Kawabata, the 2015 Central League batting champion when these two teams last met in the Japan Series, hit one of his trademark opposite-field singles.
Wladimir Balentien, whose ninth-inning homer tied it off Yuito Mori, walked to load the bases and bring up Takai.
“I came to the plate thinking about a hit, but whatever worked, I was good with that and in the end, I was able to see the pitches well enough to get the walk,” he said.
The defending PL champion Hawks came to Jingu Stadium having won their first six interleague games but were swept in their rain-shortened, two-game series to fall behind the Swallows in the interleague standings.
Trailing 2-1 in the eighth, the Hawks took their first lead, when Swallows lefty Hikaru Nakao surrendered back-to-back homers to Yuki Yanagita and Nobuhiro Matsuda.
SoftBank right-hander Shuta Ishikawa allowed two runs on five hits, a walk and a hit batsman over seven innings, but the Hawks could not get any traction against Swallows starter David Buchanan.
Buchanan yielded a single run in seven innings. He held the Hawks to three hits but walked three and hit a batter.
Takai hit his second homer of the year in the second and homered in the seventh to break the 1-1 tie.
“I was behind in the count both times and got good swings,” he said. “I’d been getting a lot of help from the coach, and I think being able to do something when behind in the count is going to make a difference for me moving forward.
Eagles 5, Giants 4
At Tokyo Dome, Tohoku Rakuten’s Kazuya Fujita homered off former major league star Koji Uehara (0-3) to break a 4-4, eighth-inning tie.
Yomiuri had come back from Zelous Wheeler’s third-inning grand slam, tying it when Daikan Yoh homered off PL pitcher of the month for May Takayuki Kishi (5-1), who earned the win.
Tigers 2, Buffaloes 1
At Koshien Stadium, Takumi Akiyama (5-5) allowed a run in seven innings to outduel Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (2-5) after Takashi Toritani doubled in the tiebreaking run in the sixth inning.
Lions 9, BayStars 7
At Yokohama Stadium, Yokohama’s Neftali Soto broke out of an 0-for-24 slump to homer twice and drive in six runs, but it was not enough to overcome an 11-hit, three-home run barrage from PL leader Seibu.
Fighters 8, Carp 4
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hokkaido Nippon Ham delivered a third-inning knockout blow, scoring seven runs against CL-leading Hiroshima on a two-run Sho Nakata single, a three-run Brandon Laird homer and a two-run Takuya Nakashima triple.
Dragons 9, Marines 8 (10)
At Nagoya Dome, Shingo Takeyama’s two-out, ninth-inning pinch double tied it 8-8 as Chunichi came back from an early 6-1 deficit and walked off to beat Lotte on a 10th-inning throwing error.
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