YOKOHAMA – Jose Lopez launched a two-run bomb in the fourth inning to lead the Yokohama BayStars to a 3-1 victory over the Hiroshima Carp in the Central League on Wednesday.
With the BayStars trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the inning, Lopez sent Kris Johnson’s 0-2 fastball to the stands behind left field for the go-ahead run at Yokohama Stadium.
With the game-winning blast, the Venezuelan first baseman reached 20 home runs for the sixth straight season.
“I caught hold of it perfectly with my swing,” said Lopez, who at 35 is the oldest member of the BayStars roster. “To reach 20 home runs for six years in a row means a lot. I’m quite emotional. I’m so happy to be here playing baseball in Japan.”
Haruhiro Hamaguchi (4-3) got the win after fanning six in 6⅓ innings. He surrendered his only run in the opening frame when he walked Takumi Miyoshi with the bases loaded.
Closer Yasuaki Yamasaki delivered a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save of the season and 150th of his career. The 26-year-old is the 15th player in professional baseball history to reach the milestone and the youngest ever.
“I’m very thankful to have the support of my teammates, the coaching staff and so many people around me,” Yamasaki said.
Johnson, winner of the 2016 Sawamura Award for Japanese baseball’s most outstanding pitcher, dropped to 2-2 after being tagged with the loss. He struck out three while allowing eight hits in his six-inning start.
The second-place BayStars remain a long way behind the Yomiuri Giants, the runaway CL leaders, but Lopez said catching them is not his team’s concern.
“It’s important that we don’t worry about what the Giants are doing, but just focus on our own games, one at a time,” he said.
Swallows 5, Giants 4
At Jingu Stadium, Norichika Aoki hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning and Wladimir Balentien added a solo shot in the same frame as Tokyo Yakult edged first-place Yomiuri.
CL leader Hayato Sakamoto hit home runs 27 and 28 of the season in the loss for the Giants, who still have a 9½-game gap at the top of the standings.
Dragons 6, Tigers 4
At Aichi Prefecture’s Toyohashi Stadium, Toshiki Abe drove in the go-ahead run on a two-run triple in the eighth to help Chunichi beat Hanshin.
Lions 4, Marines 3
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, the defending league champion Lions scored all four of their runs in the fifth inning during a win over Chiba Lotte.
Eagles 7, Buffaloes 3
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Jabari Blash belted his 22nd homer of the season and Tohoku Rakuten rallied for a win over Orix.
Fighters 4, Hawks 0
At Kitakyushu Municipal Stadium, Kohei Arihara (6-4) threw eight innings of two-hit ball, fanning seven, as Hokkaido Nippon Ham shut out Fukuoka SoftBank.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5