NAGOYA – Masanobu Fukuda’s pinch-hit single capped a three-run, ninth-inning rally, lifting the Chunichi Dragons to a 4-3 triumph over the Yomiuri Giants on Friday.
The Giants led 2-1 after eight innings of a scintillating pitchers’ duel between veteran right-handers Shun Yamaguchi of the Giants and Kazuki Yoshimi of the Dragons. Hisayoshi Chono’s one-out single drove in an insurance run for the Giants in top of the ninth, only for the Dragons to breath fire.
With one out in the bottom of the ninth in the clash of Central League rivals , Ryosuke Hirata homered off Giants closer Arquimedes Caminero.
Hirokazu Sawamura (1-3) was brought in, but couldn’t extinguish the fire. Shuhei Takahashi doubled, and Atsushi Fujii singled him to third. Then Dragons No. 8 hitter, catcher Masato Matsui, whose second home run of the season opened the scoring in the third, singled in the tying run.
With the winning run on third and the infield playing in tight, Fukuda got enough of a high 0-2 forkball from Sawamura to chop it up the middle to end the game.
“They told me to get ready early, so I was mentally prepared,” Fukuda said. “Yoshimi and Yamaguchi pitched so well that runs just weren’t going to score. I went up to the plate just determined not to be the weak link.
“It wasn’t much of a hit, but it found a hole.”
Yoshimi, who allowed just one base runner through the first five innings, struck out eight. He gave up two runs on five hits over eight innings, and walked one.
After Yamaguchi struck out Yoshimi to end a two-on, two-out threat in the bottom of the fifth, the Giants pitcher kick started Yomiuri’s offense with a two-out double in the top of the sixth. Yoshimi walked Yomiuri captain and CL batting leader Hayato Sakamoto, but Shunta Tanaka tripled both runners home.
Yamaguchi allowed a run in seven innings on three hits and three walks, while striking out nine.
Scott Mathieson preserved the visitors’ one-run lead, but even after Katsuki Matayoshi (2-2) allowed a run on three hits in the top of the ninth, Chunichi rallied to snap its four-game losing streak.
“We’re home to start the series and I want to finish this weekend strong,” Fukuda said.
BayStars 5, Carp 4
At Yokohama Stadium, All-Star first baseman Jose Lopez homered in his return to action after being out with an right thigh injury, rookie Kazuki Kamizato hit a three-run blast to tie it in the eighth, and Keita Sano’s RBI pinch-hit double lifted Yokohama to a come-from-behind, walk-off win against Hiroshima.
Swallows 10, Tigers 9
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Naomichi Nishiura’s two-run, seventh-inning single broke an 8-8 tie and Tokyo Yakult held off Hanshin to notch its fifth straight win.
Eagles 15, Lions 1
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Tohoku Rakuten got some long-awaited payback against Tohoku native Yusei Kikuchi (8-1).
The Seibu lefty allowed six runs over five innings in suffering his first regular season loss to the Eagles since May 12, 2016. His career record against them fell to 19-5.
Takahiro Shiomi (1-1) allowed a run in seven innings to earn the win against the league leaders.
Buffaloes 2, Fighters 1
At Sapporo Dome, Orix’s Yuki Nishi (5-6) outdueled Nick Martinez (7-5) as Koji Oshiro’s two-out RBI single capped a two-run seventh inning in a victory over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Hawks 6, Marines 5
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Seiji Uebayashi homered in the eighth inning to cut Chiba Lotte’s lead to 5-3, and tripled in two runs with two outs in the ninth to lift Fukuoka SoftBank to a sayonara win.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5