Yomiuri Giants 4
Streak: Won 2. Last 5: WWLWW
Yakult battled to a hard-fought 7-4 win at Tokyo Dome on Tuesday night, helped by a sterling performance from their bullpen.
The Swallows wasted no time, getting on the board in the top of the 1st and roughing up Yomiuri starter Nomaguchi. Miyamoto hit a single to occupy first base, then Aoki hit to just right of centrefield, which just evaded centre fielder Tani and rolled to the outfield wall. Miyamoto would score from first and Aoki would get a triple. Next batter Hatakeyama then hit a grounder to shortstop, but Aoki got a good lead and scored from third easily for 2-0 Tokyo.
Yakult would add another in the Top of the 2nd, with Kawamoto bringing home Tanaka from third with a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. But in the bottom of the same inning, former Yakult hero Ramirez would hit a solo homer off Tokyo starter Kawashima to narrow the lead to 3-1.
Tokyo then restored the three run advantage in the 3rd, with Aoki hitting his fourth homer in three games to make it 4-1.
The Giants came storming back into the game in the 4th. Kawashima issued his first walk of the night to put Kimura on base. Ogasawara then hit a single to put runners on first and second. Then Ramirez stepped to the plate and hit a three run home run over the rightfield fence to tie the game at 4-4.
But just as it was looking bleak for Tokyo, they would strike back themselves in the 5th off Giants reliever Ochi. Miyamoto grounded out, then Aoki worked a walk before Hatakeyama struck out. Takeuchi then hit a triple to bring home Aoki, 5-4 Yakult. Yomiuri then intentionally walked Tanaka to get to Wilson. Tanaka stole second to put runners at second and third and then Wilson blooped a single over the head of the first baseman which just stayed fair. Takeuchi and Tanaka would score to make it 7-4.
The Yakult bullpen would then take over and shut down the game. From the 6th to the 9th inning it was Igarashi, Matsuoka, Oshimoto and finally Lim who kept the Giants batters quiet and restricted them to just two more hits over the four innings while striking out five.
Kawashima got his 3rd win of the year, and despite the wobbly fifth inning, looked strong, striking out nine. Igarashi looked something like back to his 2004 prime striking out two in the 6th, and Lim did well against the Giants cleanup for his 19th Save.
Canadian slugger Aaron Guiel made his comeback to the top team after a spell out injured, pinch-hitting in the 8th inning. He grounded out to third.
Yakult return to Tokyo Dome on Wednesday and Thursday. They are now just 1.5 games behind Yomiuri in the battle for third, with a 32-35 record.