Cristopher Mercedes, one of two Yomiuri Giants imports named to the Tokyo Olympic baseball rosters, allowed a run over 7⅔ innings in an 8-1 win over the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers on Saturday.
The win at Koshien Stadium trimmed the Tigers’ lead over the second-place Giants to 2½ games.
Mercedes (5-1) struck out six and walked two while allowing seven hits. Along with right-hander Angel Sanchez, Mercedes will join the Dominican Republic’s team, which will open the Olympic tournament against Japan on July 28 in Fukushima.
The Giants scored early and often against the league leaders at Koshien Stadium, breaking the ice with a four-run first against rookie Masashi Ito (5-5).
Two walks and a double by Hayato Sakamoto, who will play for Japan in the Olympics, set the table for Zelous Wheeler, who singled in the game’s first run. A hit batsman, an RBI groundout and an error completed the outburst.
The Giants added on with the help of Wheeler’s 10th home run, Sakamoto’s 11th and Kazuma Okamoto’s league-leading 26th.
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, rookie Haruki Omichi (4-2) allowed two hits and a walk over seven-plus innings as the Hiroshima Carp beat the third-place Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5-0.
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, 44-year-old Kosuke Fukudome reached base four times, doubled, homered, scored twice and drove in a run to help boost the Chunichi Dragons to a 6-2 win over the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.
At Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome, American Olympic pitcher Nick Martinez (7-2) allowed a run over six innings, and Japan Olympian Yuki Yanagita hit a two-run home run and scored twice to lift the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to a 3-1 win over the Pacific League-leading Orix Buffaloes.
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Leonys Martin hit his PL-best 20th home run and delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly as the Chiba Lotte Marines came from behind to tie the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 4-4.
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, the Saitama Seibu Lions’ Tatsuya Imai (6-3) allowed a run over seven innings despite walking seven batters in a 6-2 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
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