Nagoya – In a pitchers’ duel with scoring opportunities at a premium, Nobumasa Fukuda’s three-run home run made all the difference as the Chunichi Dragons came from behind to beat the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants 3-1 on Saturday.
Giants right-hander Seishu Hatake (0-1) held the Dragons to four base runners over six scoreless innings at Nagoya Dome.
Kazuma Okamoto opened the scoring in the fourth against Dragons starter Akiyoshi Katsuno with his league-best 15th home run.
Trailing 1-0 with one out in the seventh, Dragons catcher Ariel Martinez beat out an infield single. Masataka Iryo singled, and Fukuda hit Hatake’s 0-1 fastball for his second home run of the season.
“He had been throwing me some really good pitches and his fastball was the best of those. So that’s what I looked for. That’s how I simplified my at-bat,” Fukuda said.
Hatake allowed four hits, walked two and hit a batter while striking out seven over seven innings.
Katsuno worked six innings, allowing a run on three hits and two walks. He struck out five. Lefty Hiroto Fuku (3-2) survived a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh to earn the win.
“Escaping that (seventh-inning) situation changed the atmosphere on the bench and gave us a second wind,” Dragons manager Tsuyoshi Yoda said. “Martinez running full speed down the line to beat out that single energized us, too.”
“Our starting pitcher did a great job. He made some mistakes but also made some big pitches when he had to.”
Setup man Daisuke Sobue retired all three batters he faced in the eighth, and closer Raidel Martinez got three fly outs in the ninth, the last two landing in left fielder Fukuda’s glove, to seal his sixth save.
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Daichi Osera (4-1) allowed a run over seven innings, and Shogo Sakakura’s seventh-inning pinch-hit single drove in the go-ahead run in the Hiroshima Carp’s 2-1 win over the Hanshin Tigers.
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yokohama DeNA BayStars captain Keita Sano singled in the tying run in the third and broke the tie with a two-run, fifth-inning home run in a 5-4 win over the Yakult Swallows.
In the Pacific League, Leonys Martin homered, doubled twice, scored three runs and drove in four in the Chiba Lotte Marines’ 9-3 win over the Orix Buffaloes at Osaka’s Kyocera Dome.
At Sapporo Dome, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Seibu Lions 7-6 after relievers Katsunori Hirai, rookie Tetsu Miyagawa (0-1) and Reed Garrett allowed six-straight runners to reach with two outs in a five-run seventh inning.
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Stefen Romero hit his 14th home run, doubled twice and reached base four times for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who took sole possession of first place from SoftBank with a 4-2 win over the Hawks.