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Thursday, June 28, 2012

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Dragon power: Chunichi's Hirokazu Ibata celebrates during the Dragons' 9-4 win over the Tigers on Wednesday. KYODO

Ibata switches on power as Dragons torch Tigers


NAGOYA — Chunichi's Hirokazu Ibata acted the part of a middle-of-the-order man on Wednesday, when the middle infielder drove two pitches over the head of the center fielder and plated three runs in the Dragons' 9-4 demolition of the Hanshin Tigers at Nagoya Dome.

Entering the game with just five extra-base hits all season, Ibata cranked up the volume to keep the Dragons unbeaten at their home dome since May 16 despite a lackluster start from Yudai Kawai (3-2).

The Tigers had just gotten on the scoreboard with two runs in the fourth, but Ibata wanted to keep them out of the game. With two outs and a man on, he powered a pitch to the wall in center to make it a 7-2 game.

"They had just scored and you want to dissuade them from doing that," Ibata said.

His manager said the offensive outburst was a welcome sight for his first-place club.

"It was gratifying to see how hard he drove those pitches," said Chunichi skipper Morimichi Takagi. "I hope it means our offense will show a little more life."

"It was a tough game. If Hanshin hadn't made so many mistakes, I'm not certain Yudai would have done as well. His performance (four runs in five-plus innings) was a bit of a shock."

The Dragons batted around in the first, when they scored four runs with the help of two walks, a hit batsman and an error.

Giants 3, Carp 2

At Mazda Stadium, Hayato Sakamoto's solo homer tied it 1-1 in the fourth and Hisayoshi Chono's two-run homer put Yomiuri in front for good as Dicky Gonzalez (2-0) won an ugly comeback duel against Hiroshima's Jumpei Shinoda (1-3).

Gonzalez, who allowed just two runs despite giving up eight hits and two walks over 5⅓ innings, last pitched on April 19, when he came out of his start after one inning due to injury. Shinoda, who gave up three runs in 4⅔ innings, was working for the first time since he lasted just three innings against the Giants on May 1.

Swallows at BayStars — late


Hawks 4, Buffaloes 1

At Yahoo Dome, Tadashi Settsu (7-3) allowed a run over eight innings as Fukuoka Softbank came from behind to beat Orix after Kenji Akashi's double drove in the Hawks' first two runs in a four-run fifth inning.

None of the Hawks runs were earned, as the hosts got to Evan MacLane (3-4) after a two-out error allowed Akashi to bat, and the right-hander walked the next man he faced. RBI singles by Nobuhiro Matsuda and Wily Mo Pena sealed the Buffaloes' fate.

Marines 2, Lions 1

At QVC Marine Field, Chiba Lotte's Yuki Karakawa (7-2) made masterful use of his breaking pitches, scattering five hits over the distance as the Marines beat Seibu after being winless in their previous four games.

Shoitsu Omatsu's two-run, fourth-inning homer provided all the support the right-hander would need to move into a tie for the PL lead in wins.

Eagles 5, Fighters 4

At Tokyo Dome, Tohoku Rakuten's Teppei Tsuchiya drew first blood with a two-run, fourth-inning homer, and Ginji Akaminai reached the seats for the first time in his career with a solo shot as the Golden Eagles won at Hokkaido Nippon Ham's old home park.

Fighters second baseman Kensuke Tanaka's second single of the game made him the 268th player to reach 1,000 career hits.

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