Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Carp squander big lead, end Swallows' comeback hopes in ninth inning

Kyodo

Closer Shota Nakazaki steered the Hiroshima Carp through a nail-biting ninth-inning as the Central League leaders held on to beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 8-7 on Tuesday.

Tsubasa Aizawa homered twice to lead the offense as the visitors racked up 16 hits at a drizzly Jingu Stadium.

Nakazaki gave up a pair of walks in the final frame, but the right-hander kept his nerve to close out the game with a bases-loaded strikeout of Nobuyuki Okamura.

Swallows starter Juri Hara (2-5) took the loss after making it through just 3-1/3 innings, giving up six earned runs on 11 hits and a walk.

Carp starter Yusuke Nomura also lasted 3-1/3 innings, making way for Aren Kuri after surrendering six runs on seven hits.

The Swallows took an early 1-0 lead when Tetsuto Yamada drove in Norichika Aoki with a double to center off Nomura in the bottom of the first.

Hiroshima erased the advantage the following inning when Aizawa blasted his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot to center.

The visitors jumped out to a 7-1 lead after scoring three runs apiece in the third and fourth innings. Seiya Suzuki, Ryoma Nishikawa and Aizawa drove in runs in the third, while Xavier Batista, Nishikawa and Kosuke Tanaka added RBIs in the fourth.

Swallows skipper Junji Ogawa replaced Hara with Takuma Kubo with the bases loaded and two out in the fourth.

But Yakult cut the deficit to a single run in the fifth as they chased Nomura from the mound during a five-run rally.

Yamada led off with a solo homer, before 19-year-old Munetaka Murakami went long with a two-run blast that also scored Wladimir Balentien. The homer was No. 13 of the season for the teenage slugger.

Former big-leaguer Aoki capped the rally with a line-drive single off Kuri that scored Takeshi Miyamoto and Nobuyuki Okumura.

Carp reliever Kyle Regnaunt (3-0) got the win after steadying the ship for the visitors with a scoreless fifth and sixth.

The Swallows got a scoreless inning each out of relievers Ryota Igarashi and David Huff, but the Carp extended their lead to 8-6 when Aizawa went long for another solo in the eighth, this time off Kazuki Kondo.

Yuhei Nakamura cut the lead to one when he scored Murakami with a single off Geronimo Franzua in the eighth.

BayStars at Dragons — ppd.

Giants at Tigers — ppd.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

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At Morioka Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten rallied for five runs in the seventh on its way to a come-from-behind triumph over Seibu.