Two-time Central League MVP Yoshihiro Maru proved to be a one-man wrecking crew Thursday, driving in four runs in the Yomiuri Giants’ 4-2 come-from-behind interleague win over the Orix Buffaloes.
Maru tied the game 2-2 in the sixth inning off right-hander Kohei “K” Suzuki (1-4), who had limited the Giants to two walks and a single through five innings.
With two outs and pinch hitter Yasuhiro Yamamoto on base with a leadoff single, Maru hit a 1-1 fastball out to left that stayed just fair for his 12th home run of the season.
“To be honest, I thought it was going to slice foul, but I begged it to stay fair and it did what I asked,” Maru said of his opposite-field homer.
Maru, who made the final out of Wednesday’s loss to the Buffaloes, got another chance to make a difference in the eighth. After Suzuki issued a pair of two-out walks, right-handed reliever Taisuke Kondo entered to face the left-handed-hitting Maru.
Kondo got ahead in the count 0-2 when Maru fouled off a belt-high fastball. Kondo tried again with the same pitch and Maru drilled it off the right-field wall for a two-run triple.
Giants closer Kota Nakagawa surrendered two one-out singles in the ninth, but wrapped up his ninth save with a game-ending double play.
Yomiuri starter Toshiki Sakurai struck out 10 over six innings, but allowed two runs on five hits and two walks. He gave up the lead in the fifth inning on a leadoff single, a two-out walk and a two-run Koji Oshiro triple.
Hirokazu Sawamura (2-1), the Giants closer in 2015 and 2016, worked two solid innings of middle relief to earn the win.
Lions 2, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, Hotaka Yamakawa smacked his 27th home run and Zach Neal (2-1) allowed a run over five to earn his first win since April 2 as Seibu edged Chunichi.
Eagles 3, Tigers 2
At Koshien Stadium, Eigoro Mogi had four hits and drove in two runs, while Ryota Ishibashi (4-3) allowed two runs over seven-plus innings and scored the winning run in Tohoku Rakuten’s triumph over Hanshin.
Fighters 8, BayStars 4
At Yokohama Stadium, pinch hitter Kenshi Sugiya clubbed a tiebreaking, seventh-inning home run off former teammate Edwin Escobar (2-2) as Hokkaido Nippon Ham defeated Yokohama.
Carp 7, Marines 6
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima catcher Tsubasa Aizawa homered, doubled and drove in the winning run in the ninth inning with a two-out RBI single to lift Hiroshima past Chiba Lotte.
Hawks 6, Swallows 5
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Seiichi Uchikawa went 4-for-5 with two home runs, three runs and three RBIs as Fukuoka SoftBank overcame a two-homer night from Tetsuto Yamada and a two-run blast from Tokyo Yakult rookie Munetaka Murakami.