Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Giants' Kazuma Okamoto delivers game-winning blast against Eagles

Kyodo

Kazuma Okamoto’s home run lifted the Yomiuri Giants to a 2-1 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Thursday, helping the club claim its first interleague series of the season.

With the game tied 1-1 at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Okamoto connected on his first pitch from Eagles starter Ryota Ishibashi (3-3) in the sixth to deliver the game-winning run.

“I got up to the plate, thinking that somehow I had to get on base. I was able to get a good swing on it,” said Okamoto, who recorded his 10th home run of the season.

Ishibashi retired the side in the first but gave up two straight hits in the second before allowing the Giants’ first run on a two-out single from Akihiro Wakabayashi.

Yomiuri right-hander Toshiki Sakurai (2-1) got the win in his first professional start in three years and just the second since his rookie season in 2016.

Sakurai fanned eight and scattered three hits over 6-2/3 innings. The 25-year-old loaded the bases in the fourth and issued a game-tying walk, but rebounded with a timely strikeout to limit the damage.

“I’m really happy,” Sakurai said. “The sense of accomplishment is different.”

Sakurai and four Yomiuri relievers combined to hold the visitors’ lead after Okamoto homered, while Kota Nakagawa struck out the side in the ninth for his sixth save.

Lions 9, Carp 2

At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Kuo Chun-lin (1-0) got his first win of the season as Seibu notched a season-high five home runs in a come-from-behind victory over Hiroshima.

Fighters 3, Swallows 1

At Sapporo Dome, Takayuki Kato (3-4) held Tokyo Yakult to a run and picked up his third win for Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

The Swallows’ Yasuhiro Ogawa (1-8) was tagged with the loss.

Hawks 6, Dragons 4

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Fukuoka SoftBank remains the only undefeated team after three games of interleague play after beating Chunichi behind eight innings from Kotaro Otake (3-2).

Yurisbel Gracial drove in the first and winning runs for the Hawks.

Buffaloes 3, BayStars 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Tsubasa Sakakibara (3-3) pitched out of several key jams to limit the damage over seven innings and lead Orix past Yokohama.

Tigers 4, Marines 3 (10)

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Naoya Masuda (2-4) gave up three straight hits in extra innings, and Yoshio Itoi’s RBI single broke a 10th-inning tie as Hanshin topped Chiba Lotte.

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