NAGOYA – Wladimir Balentien singled in two first-inning runs and six pitchers made that lead stand up in the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ 3-1 win over the Chunichi Dragons on Sunday afternoon.
Veteran lefty Yudai Ono (7-8) surrendered an infield single to open the game at Nagoya Dome and hit Norichika Aoki with a pitch. A groundout advanced the runners and Balentien did a good job with a tricky inside fastball, lining it over second for a two-run single.
The Dragons halved the visitors’ lead in the second, when Shuhei Takahashi walked and flashed his base running skills to score from second on Atsushi Fujii’s one-out single off Swallows starter Albert Suarez.
Ono came close to tying the score in the fifth, when he drew a leadoff walk. With two outs, he tried to score from third on a fly ball, but Swallows right fielder Yuhei Takai gunned him down at the plate.
Yakult made it 3-1 in the seventh, when rookie Munetaka Murakami doubled and scored from third on an Ono wild pitch.
The lefty allowed three runs on six hits, a walk and a hit batsman, while striking out four.
The Dragons put runners on the corners in the ninth against Scott McGough with two outs, but pinch-runner Issei Endo made the game’s final out trying to steal second.
“I thought we had good preparation today as a team. I felt we hit the ball pretty well and the defense really showed up,” said McGough, who recorded his eighth save.
Tigers 2, Giants 0
At Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, lefty Yuta Iwasada (2-3) allowed three hits, while striking out six over six innings and three relievers completed the four-hit shutout as Hanshin beat Yomiuri.
BayStars 3, Carp 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Shota Imanaga (13-5) allowed two runs in 7⅓ innings, while striking out eight, and Neftali Soto hit a two-run homer as Yokohama came from behind to beat Hiroshima.
Hawks 4, Lions 1
At MetLife Dome in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, Shota Takeda (5-3) allowed a run over six innings and SoftBank got solo home runs from Yuki Yanagita and Nobuhiro Matsuda in a win over the second-place Saitama Seibu Lions that kept the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in first place.
Eagles 2, Fighters 1
At Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Ryota Ishibashi (7-6) allowed a single and a walk over seven innings to outduel Chihiro Kaneko (5-7). Jabari Blash opened the scoring with a leadoff home run in the second, and the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles held on to hand the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters their sixth-straight loss.
Marines 8, Buffaloes 6
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Leonys Martin hit a three-run home run for the Chiba Lotte Marines, who came from four runs down to beat Orix.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5