YOKOHAMA – Jose Lopez hit a tie-breaking, two-run double off his former team, lifting the second-place Yokohama BayStars to a 4-2 win over the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants on Friday night.
Trailing by a run in the sixth, Neftali Soto doubled in Takehiro Ishikawa to tie it with one out against Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, whose command was suddenly suspect. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, whose fourth-inning homer put the BayStars on the board, walked to bring Lopez up with the bases loaded at Yokohama Stadium.
The former Giant put a good swing on a low pitch from Sugano and hustled to second for a double that scored Toshiro Miyazaki and Soto.
Yokohama sidearm starter Kentaro Taira (4-2) allowed two runs over six innings to earn the win after Edwin Escobar, Spencer Patton and Yasuaki Yamasaki each came out of the bullpen to put a scoreless inning on the board.
Painting the bottom of the zone with a wide variety of breaking pitches, including a nasty screwball, Taira struck out nine while walking none and allowing four hits.
“I was focused on pitching my kind of game, keeping the ball low,” Taira said. “Before the game, Soto said he’d hit for me. So that was pretty amazing. Chamo-san (Lopez) said he would, too. I want to thank you guys for getting me a win.”
Sugano (8-5) allowed six hits and a walk, while striking out nine.
The win moved the BayStars to within 2-1/2 games of the Giants, who opened the scoring on a Yoshihiro Maru homer in the first inning. Two ground singles that found their way around Soto at second base in the fourth inning set up a Kazuma Okamoto sacrifice fly.
Carp 7, Tigers 0
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Dragons 5, Swallows 4
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Hawks 2, Fighters 0
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Eagles 5, Marines 2
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Buffaloes 9, Lions 8
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IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5