Yomiuri Giants 7 - Yakult Swallows 1
W: Tetsuya Utsumi (3-5; 9 IP, 4 H, 10 K, 0 BB, R, ER)
L: Masanori Ishikawa (7-4; 6 IP, 10 H, 3 K, BB, 6 R, 6 ER)
After losing 2 straight, Tetsuya Utsumi bounces back to win his third game of the season. He started things off by retiring the first 9 batters in row, including striking out the side in the second. Utsumi gave up a lead-off hit in the 4th to Yasushi Iihara (1-for-4), but retired the next three in order. He started the 5th by giving up two consecutive singles, but was helped out when Aaron Guiel (1-for-3) tried to go from first to third on the second hit. He then retired the next 9 consecutive batters until he gave up a solo home run to Ryoji Aikawa (1-for-3, HR, R, RBI) in the top of the 8th. Utsumi would close out the rest of the game by retiring the next 5 batters in a row.
Masanori Ishikawa had a rough go from the start, giving up 2 runs in the bottom of the first on a double by Hayato Sakamoto (3-for-4, 2B, 2 R) followed by a triple, one out later, off the bat of Michihiro Ogasawara (3-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI) and a sac fly by Alex Ramirez (1-for-3, RBI). Ishikawa settled down a bit after that, holding down the Giants to 4 hits over the next 4 innings. But his luck would run out in the bottom of the 6th.
After giving up a lead-off single to Ogasawara, Ishikawa got Ramirez to ground out to third for the first out of the inning. But a run scoring triple to Yoshitomo Tani (2-for-3, 3B, R, RBI), a walk to Shinnosuke Abe (1-for-3, BB, R) and a 3-run home run to Seung-Yeop Lee (2-for-4, HR, R, 3 RBI) put the Giants in front, 6-0. Ishikawa managed to get the final 2 outs of the inning, but the damage was done.
The Giants would score another run in the bottom of the 7th off Takehiko Oshimoto to take a 7-0 lead.
The Giants collected 12 hits off the Swallows and left 4 runners on base. The Swallows got 4 hits and left 2 on base. ... Norichikawa Aoki went 0-for-4. ... Lee has now hit a home run in three consecutive games and has 4 home runs over his last 5. ... It was Utsumi's first complete game victory of the season.
Time: 2h 28m
Hanshin Tigers 3 - Yokohama Bay Stars 2
W: Kyuji Fujikawa (2-3; 1 IP, 0 H, 0 K, 2 BB, 0 R)
L: Shun Yamaguchi (3-3; .2 IP, 4 H, 0 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 3 R, 3 ER)
Great win for the Tigers, an extremely tough loss for the Bay Stars.
The Bay Stars took a 1-0 lead in the second on Tatsuya Shimozono's second home run of the season off Tigers' starter Yasutomo Kubo (5 IP, 5 H, 4 K, 3 BB, 2 R, 2 ER). They scored another run in the 5th when Seiichi Uchikawa (1-for-3, BB, R) doubled with 2 outs and Shuichi Murata (1-for-4, RBI) drove him home on a single to right. Takahiro Saeki (1-for-4) followed with a single, but both he and Murata were left on base when Shimozono flied out to left to end the inning.
The Bay Stars also left runners on first and second with 1 out in the first; and runners on first and third with 2 outs in the 4th. They also managed to leave runners on first and second in the 9th when Kyuji Fujikawa ran into some control problems and walked 2 straight batters after retiring the first batter.
The Tigers had a number of chances between first and eighth innings to score a run, but there best chance may have been in the 7th when Keisuke Kano and Ikuro Katsuragi began the inning with singles. Tom Mastny (6 IP, 7 H, 2 K, BB, HBP, 0 R) was lifted after that and his replacement, Atsushi Kizuka, got Norihiro Akamatsu (0-for-4) to hit into a double play for the first two outs of the inning. Kizuka then retired Kentaro Sekimoto (3-for-4, BB, 3B, 2 RBI) to close out the inning without surrendering any runs.
But the Tigers wouldn't let their biggest scoring opportunity go by: in the bottom of the 9th after 1 out, three consecutive Tigers reached, with singles, to load the bases. Shinjiro Hiyama hit a pinch-hit sac fly to cut the Bay Stars' lead by 1. Shun Yamaguchi then surrendered a walk-off triple to Sekimoto that pushed the remaining two runners across the plate to give the Tigers a 3-2 victory.
The Tigers outhit the Bay Stars 11-5, but they both left the same number of runners on base: 9.
Time: 3h 19m
Chunichi Dragons 2 - Hiroshima Carp 1
W: Yudai Kawai (7-0; 7 IP, 6 H, 2 K, 2 BB, R, ER)
Sv: Hitoki Iwase (19)
L: Kenta Maeda (5-6; 7 IP, 5 H, 6 K, BB, 2 R, 2 ER)
Tough loss for Kenta Maeda as he basically lost the game on two pitches he made in the 4th that went over the fence for home runs: back-to-back home runs to Tony Blanco (1-for-4, HR, R, RBI) and Kazuhiro Wada (1-for-3, HR, R, RBI). Take those two hits away and Maeda actually tossed a pretty decent game -- he even struck out 4 straight batters at one point.
Other than the 4th and 8th innings, the Carp had at least 1 base runner in every inning. And yet they only managed 1 run (in the first) off Chunichi pitching: in the second, Yoshiyuki Ishihara doubled with 1 out; in the third, Scott McClain (0-for-2, 2 BB) and Kenta Kurihara (2-for-4, RBI) were left on first and second, respectively, with 2 out; in the fifth, Masato Akamatsu (0-for-4) reach on an error with 1 out; Jun Hirose (2-for-4) was stranded at first with 2 outs in the 6th; Akihiro Higashide (1-for-3) was left on first in the 7th; Hirose doubled to start the 9th and was bunted over to third and stranded there.
The Carp collected 7 hits and left 9 men on base. The Dragons picked up 6 hits and left 5 men on base.
Time: 3h 11m
Softbank Hawks 7 - Seibu Lions 5
W: Brian Falkenborg (4-0; 1 IP, 2 H, 2 K, BB, R, ER)
Sv: Takahiro Mahara (13)
L: Koji Mitsui (0-1; .2 IP, 2 H, 0 K, 0 BB, 2 R, 2 ER)
Neither start did a particularly great job. D.J. Houlton (6 IP, 6 H, 2 K, BB, 4 R, 4 ER) got the start for the Hawks, and gave up a two 2-run homers to the Lions: Hiroyuki Nakajima (1-for-4, HR, R, 2 RBI) knocked one out in the first and G.G. Sato (1-for-4, HR, R, RBI) knocked out the second one in the fourth.
John Wasdin (5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 K, 3 BB, 3 R, 3 ER) got the nod for the Lions and surrendered RBI singles to Hitoshi Tamura (1-for-4, BB, RBI) and Nobuhiro Matsuda (1-for-4, RBI) in the 4th. Wasdin gave up another run in the top of the 5th when Jose Ortiz (4-for-5, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) nailed his 11th home run of the season.
Going into the top of the 7th, with the Lions up 4-3 and both starters out of the game, Nobuhiko Matsunaka (1-for-3, 2 BB, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) nailed a 2-run homer off Tomoki Hoshino to give the Hawks a 5-4 lead. The Lions would tie the game in the bottom of the 8th on an RBI double by Takumi Kuriyama (1-for-3, BB, R, RBI). But the Hawks would regain the lead again in the top of the 9th on an RBI double by Ortiz and an RBI single by Hiroki Kokubo (2-for-5, R, RBI).
Takahiro Mahara entered the game in the bottom of the 9th and retired the side in order for his 13th save of the season.
The Hawks cranked out 13 hits and left 9 men on base while the Lions collected 8 hits and left 4 men on base. ... Matsunaka now has 10 or more home runs in each of his last 11 consecutive seasons.
Time: 3h 27m
Chiba Lotte Marines 3 - Nippon Ham Fighters 2
W: Shingo Ono (6 IP, 3 H, 6 K, 0 BB, 2 R, 2 ER)
L: Brian Sweeney (6 IP, 7 H, 5 K, 4 BB, 3 R, 3 ER)
The Marines and Fighters played a rain shortened game.
Shingo Ono, placed on the active roster prior to the game, tossed 6 solid innings and held the Fighters' offense to just 3 hits. Two of those three hits came in the top of the fourth and one of the two hits in that inning was a 2-run blast by Atsunori Inaba (1-for-2, HR, R, RBI) that tied the game at 2.
Brian Sweeney wasn't very sharp in his outing, but he still managed to work in and out of trouble, limiting most of the damage to the second inning when Saburo (1-for-2, BB, 2B) led off the inning with a double and then came around to score when Tasuku Hashimoto (2-for-3, R, RBI) singled him home. A walk to Benny Agbayani (1-for-2, BB, 2B, R) put runners on first and second with no out. But it wasn't until 2 outs later that Tsuyoshi Nishioka (1-for-3, RBI) came through with an RBI single to put the Marines up, 2-0.
Including the second inning, the Marines would strand 2 runners on in three different innings. And it wasn't until the bottom of the 6th that they finally managed to come through with a big run after Agbayani led off with a double and scored 1 out later on a squeeze bunt by Toshiaki Imae (0-for-2, RBI). That run ended up being the difference in the game.
The game was called after 6 innings.
The Fighters collected 3 hits and left 1 man on base. The Marines had 7 hits and left 8 men on.
Time: 2h 16m
Rakuten Eagles 4 - Orix Buffaloes 3
W: Ryohei Isaka (2-1; 5 IP, 7 H, 3 K, 0 BB, R, ER)
Sv: Marcus Gwyn (3)
L: Yoshihisa Hirano (2-4; 5 IP, 4 H, 5 K, 4 BB, 4 R, 4 ER)
The Eagles flexed their muscles again, scoring 3 of their 4 runs via the home run. With 1-0 lead heading into the top of the third, Masato Nakamura (2-for-4, HR, R, 2 RBI) nailed a 2-run home run to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead. One out later, the Eagles were up 4-0 on a solo shot by Takeshi Yamasaki (1-for-4, HR, R, RBI).
Ryohei Isaka certainly wasn't perfect by any means, but he still managed to hold the Buffaloes to a run that scored in the bottom of the 4th on a sac fly by Naoyuki Ohmura (0-for-3, RBI). Isaka almost coughed up another un in to 5th when the Buffaloes threatened with an out sandwiched between two singles to start the inning. But he bore down and retired the next two batters, Jose Fernandez (2-for-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI) and Greg LaRocca (0-for-4, R), to keep the Buffaloes off the board.
Over the last two innings of the game, the Eagles' bullpen almost let the Buffaloes overtake the lead: in the bottom of the 8th, Koji Aoyama walked and hit the first two batters he faced. Two outs and two pitchers later, Marcus Gwyn let one loose, moving each of the runners up a base. But Gwyn held on and struck out the next batter to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 9th, Gwyn struck out the lead-off batter, but then surrendered a double and hit Tomotaka Sakaguchi to put runners on first and second with only 1 out. A grounder back to the mound moved the runners up a base and Fernanedez doubled home 2 runs to bring the Buffaloes within 1 run to tie the game. But Gwyn once again held on and got LaRocca to ground out to third to end the inning and the game.
The Buffaloes outhit the Eagles, 9-5 and left 4 more runners on base (10-6). ... Katsuya Nomura will get to celebrate his 74th birthday tomorrow with his team 1-game over .500.
Time: 3h 35m