Keiji Obiki went 3-for-4, including a pair of home runs, while Yasuhiro Ogawa struck out eight as the Yakult Swallows beat the Yomiuri Giants 8-5 in the Central League on Monday night.
The Giants dropped from third to fourth with the loss at Jingu Stadium, half a game back from the Yokohama BayStars and 9½ behind second-place Yakult in the race for the Climax Series.
Coming into the game with just two homers for the year, Obiki put his team ahead in the bottom of the second by sending Mitsuo Yoshikawa’s second pitch over left field. The two-run shot scored Yuhei Takai, who led off the inning with a ground-ball single to left.
Obiki put the Swallows up 3-0 with an almost identical solo shot against Yoshikawa in the fourth. Tomitaka Sakaguchi drove in the second run of the inning, bringing home Naomichi Nishiura with a line drive single to left.
Takai opened the lead out to 7-0 in the fifth, scoring Tetsuto Yamada and Wladimir Balentien with a three-run shot into the left-field stands.
Having replaced Yoshikawa to start the inning, Giants reliever Samuel Adames got Norichika Aoki to fly out before surrendering a fly double to left to Yamada with the count at 3-2. The Dominican right-hander then walked power hitter Balentien, bringing Takai to the plate.
The Giants rallied late after Shinosuke Abe led off the seventh with a solo shot to right off Ogawa. Hayato Sakamoto led off the eighth with another solo, hitting reliever Kazuki Kondo’s first pitch of the game into the left-field stands.
Kondo surrendered a second run in the inning when Shunta Tanaka scored off Abe’s sacrifice grounder.
Obiki registered his third hit of the game, a line drive single to right off Ryoma Nogami, in the bottom of the eighth. He advanced to second on Nishiura’s sacrifice bunt before scoring on a Shingo Kawabata single to center.
The Giants continued to rally in the top of the ninth, narrowing the gap when Yoshiyuki Kamei led off with a solo homer to right off closer Taichi Ishiyama.
Ogawa (8-5) got the win after pitching seven innings in which he allowed one earned run off six hits. Yoshikawa (6-7) took the loss after surrendering four runs off eight hits in his four-inning start.
Baystars 10, Tigers 0
Lions 2, Fighters 1
Buffaloes 5, Eagles 2
Marines 6, Hawks 1
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