Naomichi Nishiura and Domingo Santana delivered back-to-back solo home runs Tuesday for the Central League-leading Tokyo Yakult Swallows, chasing Yomiuri Giants starter Yuki Takahashi early in a 3-2 win.
Yakult starter Yasuhiro Ogawa (9-5) allowed two runs on six hits over six innings, striking out five and walking none as he outperformed CL wins leader Takahashi (11-7) at Jingu Stadium.
The Swallows sent Takahashi to the showers with none out in the bottom of the fourth after Nishiura blasted his fourth home run deep to left and Santana launched No. 14 over right for a 3-0 lead.
“As I was leading off the inning, I wanted to get on base no matter what. With that in mind, I was able to hit a home run,” Nishiura said. “It felt good coming off the bat and thankfully it carried.”
Munetaka Murakami had given Yakult the lead in the third when he grounded out to score Norichika Aoki from third.
Takumi Oshiro put the Giants on the board in the fifth with an RBI single and Hayato Sakamoto drove in another run in the sixth, scoring Akihiro Wakabayashi from first with a double.
Relievers Ryuta Konno and Noboru Shimizu threw a scoreless inning each for Yakult before closer Scott McGough survived a nervous ninth for his 25th save.
With two out and runners on second and third, the American right-hander collected an infield grounder from Zelous Wheeler and tagged him on the way to first to end the game.
The second-place Hanshin Tigers remained one game back after cruising past the Yokohama DeNA BayStars 5-2 at Yokohama Stadium.
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, the Chunichi Dragons walked off with a 4-3 win over the Hiroshima Carp after Shuhei Takahashi drew a bases-loaded walk from Yasunori Kikuchi in the bottom of the ninth.
In the Pacific League, the first-place Orix Buffaloes battered the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 9-0, with Kotaro Kurebayashi, Yuma Mune and Steven Moya hitting home runs at Kyocera Dome Osaka.
At Zozo Marine Stadium, Chiba Lotte Marines starter Ayumu Ishikawa combined with three relievers to blank the visiting Saitama Seibu Lions 2-0.
At PayPay Dome, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles combined for 25 hits, including five home runs, in a seesaw 7-7 tie.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.