All Yoshinobu Takahashi wanted for his birthday was a victory.
The 33-year-old ended up with that and more on Thursday night at Tokyo Dome.
Takahashi smacked the first of three consecutive seventh-inning Yomiuri home runs, a three-run shot, to help the defending Central League champion Giants come from behind and earn their first win of the season, 6-5 over the Chunichi Dragons.
Yoshiyuki Kamei followed Takahashi with a solo shot, and Michihiro Ogasawara, who went 4-for-4 with his first two longballs of the season, put the Giants ahead with a blast down the right-field line.
The Giants touched up Chunichi ace Kenshin Kawakami (0-1) for all three homers to wipe out a 5-1 deficit and win after losing their franchise-worst fifth game to start the season on Wednesday.
"I was able to do something to contribute tonight, and that feels good," Takahashi said. "I wasn't sure I got enough of it, but I had some feeling behind it and it carried for me," he said of his first homer of the season.
"We played like the Giants can tonight," said Yomiuri skipper Tatsunori Hara, whose team hadn't scored more than three runs in any of its first five games, but got five in the seventh-inning uprising.
"We finally did a good job of putting some hits together."
Hara made a couple of lineup changes, inserting Kamei into center for Yoshitomo Tani and sticking Ryota Wakiya in at second base for Takuya Kimura.
Yomiuri, the overwhelming preseason favorites to win a second consecutive league championship, is by no means out of the race, since it's still April. But only one of 19 CL teams that lost at least five games out of the gate has come back to win the title--the Taiyo Whales in 1960.
"We never gave up in any of the games, but we just didn't have any wins to show for it," said Ogasawara, whose solo shot in the fourth ended an 18-inning scoring drought for the Giants.
"We finally got that first one, now I hope we can get it going."
It was the first loss for the Japan Series champion Dragons, who after six innings looked well on their way to earning a fifth-straight win. But Kawakami ran into a buzz saw with two outs in the seventh.
"He's our ace, so it's a tough decision to think about taking him out of the game in that situation," Chunichi skipper Hiromitsu Ochiai said.
"We had won the first two games of the series and had our ace on the mound, and they didn't. But those kinds of losses happen sometimes in baseball."
The Dragons opened the scoring in the second inning. Kazuhiro Wada led off with a double and, after Norihiro Nakamura floated a twister over the infield for a single, Wada strolled home on a sacrifice fly by Masahiko Morino, who hit a third of his 18 homers and had 24 RBIs against the Giants last season.
The Dragons made it 2-0 in the third inning on Lee Byung Kyu's RBI double. After Ogasawara cut the lead in half in the fourth, the Dragons made it 5-1 on Wada's three-run homer in the fifth, his first since moving to Chunichi from the Seibu Lions.
New closer Marc Kroon was sharp in recording his first save for the Giants, retiring the side in order in the ninth inning.
In other Central League games:
CARP 4, TIGERS 2: Yoshiyuki Ishihara's two-run double in the fifth put host Hiroshima up and Ben Kozlowski got the final two outs for his first save as the Carp earned their first win of the season, while handing Hanshin its first loss.
SWALLOWS 6, BAYSTARS 3: Masakazu Fukukawa's two-run single in the seventh inning put Tokyo Yakult up, and Aaron Guiel hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to pad the lead as the Swallows won at Yokohama.
Lions 4, Buffaloes 3: Takumi Kuriyama, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Craig Brazell delivered consecutive two-out doubles in a two-run eighth inning as Seibu rallied to top Orix at Kyocera Dome.
The Buffaloes, held scoreless on four hits through six innings by Seibu starter Hideaki Wakui, had gone ahead with three runs the seventh inning.
Fighters 6, Hawks 2: Yu Darvish (2-0) tossed five hitless innings and Atsunori Inaba went 3-for-5 with two RBIs as Nippon Ham topped SoftBank at Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome.
Staked to a 4-0 lead, Darvish gave up his first hit when No. 9 batter Shotaro Ide led off the sixth with a clean single to right.
His consecutive scoreless streak ended at 24 innings when the Hawks came alive and rapped out four straight hits to score two runs in the seventh inning.
The Dragons, though, came back by putting the first two on in front of cleanup batter Tyrone Woods.
Woods battled Yomiuri starter Norihito Kaneto for 10 pitches before flying out to center, but Wada belted a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left for a 5-1 lead.