OSAKA – Pinch hitter Shinnosuke Shigenobu lofted a fly ball to the wall that fell for a game-winning double, lifting the Yomiuri Giants to a 6-5 walk-off win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Tuesday.
Before a crowd of 33,331 at Kyocera Dome, the Central League-leading Giants were forced into a ninth-inning dogfight after blowing a three-run lead in the eighth.
With the score tied 5-5 after reliever Kota Nakagawa (4-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth inning, Kazuma Okamoto singled against Swallows reliever Kazuki Kondo (3-2). A sacrifice and an error put the go-ahead run on second, and the Yakult outfield came in shallow to cut off a run at the plate should Shigenobu single.
His fly ball carried over the head of left fielder Norichika Aoki and was ruled a double.
“I’m glad. I’m basically happy that we won,” Shigenobu said. “I was not focused on getting a hit so much as hitting the ball hard, and making something happen. Before I went to bat, the manager told me I would be swinging away and not sacrificing.”
Yomiuri starting pitcher Shun Yamaguchi was on the verge of racking up his 11th win of the season but left the 5-2 game in the eighth with two outs and the tying run at the plate.
Rubby De La Rosa took the mound for Yomiuri and Aoki hit the right-hander’s first pitch out to center for his 12th home run.
The Giants scored four runs in the first off Swallows right-hander David Buchanan. He allowed five runs on 10 hits, three walks and a hit batsman over five innings. Wladimir Balentien homered to lead off Yakult’s fifth with the first hit off Yamaguchi.
With the game tied in the ninth, Yakult loaded the bases with two outs for the team’s best hitter, Tetsuto Yamada, but Nakagawa got him to fly out and earned the win in relief.
Yamaguchi allowed four runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out eight over 7-2/3 innings.
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