HIROSHIMA – Yoshihiro Maru’s two home runs tipped a see-saw game the Hiroshima Carp’s way in a 6-5 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Thursday night.
Before 31,255 at Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadum, the Carp scored for the first time in three games to overturn an early two-run deficit in the finale of the three-game series.
Maru’s first homer, which tied it 2-2 in the third, was the 100th of his career. The left-handed hitter mashed a low pitch from rookie Seishu Hatake and drove it out to center.
“I never thought I’d hit this many, but having said that, I’d like this to be just a milestone on my journey,” he said. “I was determined not to get overpowered on a fastball so I stayed compact and was able to put a good swing on it.”
In a game that saw the Giants erase a one-run Carp lead three times, Maru’s second homer just barely got out to left for an opposite-field homer, but it was the run on the scoreboard.
“My focus is always just on making contact,” Maru said. “I honestly didn’t think that one would get out.”
Carp lefty Kris Johnson allowed five runs, three earned, on eight hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings as Hiroshima had a poor defensive night at the office.
Trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the first, Carp right fielder Seiya Suzuki, whose error in the top of the first had handed the Giants a run, halved the deficit by doubling home Kosuke Tanaka with two outs.
After Maru tied it in the third against Hatake, who was making his pro debut, Suzuki walked, stole second and went to third on an infield single before scoring on a Brad Eldred sacrifice fly.
Errors by Kosuke Tanaka and Ryosuke Kikuchi contributed to a Giants’ run in the fourth, but the pair teamed up to put Hiroshima ahead in the home half of the inning. Tanaka singled with two outs, stole second and scored on a Kikuchi single.
The Giants tied it in the fifth only to see the Carp move ahead again in the sixth on a Tanaka RBI single.
A Seiji Kobayashi double and a two-out Yasuhiro Yamamoto single made it 5-5 in the top of the seventh. But former Giant Ryuji Ichioka (3-2) relieved Johnson, and struck out 2016 CL batting champ Hayato Sakamoto to end the inning. Maru then put Hiroshima ahead in the bottom of the seventh with his 16th homer, off reliever Kentaro Nishimura (0-1).
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