Kazuhiro Wada and Norihiro Nakamura provided the big blows in a four-run fifth inning Friday night at Tokyo Dome as the Chunichi Dragons won their third straight game, topping the Yomiuri Giants 7-4.
Wada lined a two-out, two-run single up the middle off Giants starter Tetsuya Utsumi and veteran slugger Nakamura followed him with a two-run homer to left, the seventh dinger of the year for the former Pacific League home-run king, to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead.
Wada had four hits and drove in three runs for the Dragons and Nakamura also drove in three runs. Shortstop Hirokazu Ibata had three hits and drove in Chunichia's other run.
Takashi Ogasawara (4-2) worked 3 2/3 innings in relief of starter Susumu Kawai to get the win. He gave up a pair of runs on a pair of hits.
Closer Hitoki Iwase got his 11th save, despite giving up two hits in the ninth inning.
Masahiro Araki hit the first pitch of the game from Utsumi to the fence in left field for a stand-up double. Utsumi worked five frames, allowing six runs on nine hits while striking out five.
In the second inning, the Giants put a pair on the board. Yoshitomo Tani singled off Dragons lefty Kawai and moved to third on a double by Takuya Kimura. Kawai then went to the Dragons' locker room for some minor repairs and when he returned to the mound five minutes later, the first thing he did was uncork a wild pitch to allow Tani to score from third. Yomiuri catcher Ken Kato then lashed an RBI double to center field that glanced off the glove of outfielder Masahiko Morino, who made a lunging attempt to catch the ball.
The Dragons struck back in their half of the fourth, however, hitting four straight singles on their way to tying the game. Wada shot a ball through the gap between third and short to score Morino and Nakamura followed up with a run-scoring line single off the fence in left field to bring Tyrone Woods home.
Chunichi wasted an opportunity to tack on a few more runs in the inning after Utsumi walked Motonobu Tanishige to load the bases with two out. Dragons skipper Hiromitsu Ochiai had Kazuyoshi Tatsunami pinch hit for Kawai, but Utsumi struck out the veteran slugger on a 3-2 curveball.
Kimura broke the deadlock in the home half of the fourth with an opposite-field solo homer to right off Ogasawara, but the Dragons' big fifth-inning outburst took some of the shine off Kimura's first HR this season.
Chunichi loaded the bases again in the sixth off reliever Ken Kadokura, but with two out and home-run threat Woods at the plate, Kadokura struck him out looking at a full-count 146-kph forkball.
Michihiro Ogasawara went deep off Takashi Ogasawara for a solo home run in the sixth, his seventh homer of the season, to get the Giants back within two runs at 6-4, but Ibata's RBI single in the eighth restored the three-run margin. Pinch-hitter Kazuki Inoue had led off the inning with a double off Masafumi Togano, who also gave up the run-scoring single to Ibata.
Elsewhere in the CL, Shuichi Murata blasted a three-run homer in the third inning off Tigers starter Yuya Ando (4-2) as the Yokohama BayStars defeated the front-running Hanshin 6-2 at Koshien Stadium.
Daisuke Miura (2-4) earned his second win, allowing a one run on two hits in six innings.
Yokohama extended their lead to 4-0 with an RBI single to center by Yuki Yoshimura in the sixth inning before Hanshin went back to 4-2 with two sacrifice flies, both made by Tomoaki Kanemoto.
BayStars pinch-hitter Larry Bigbie answered back with two runs with a ninth-inning homer to make it 6-2.
At Jingu Stadium, Aaron Guiel smacked a solo homer and starter Kyohei Muranaka threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings as the Yakult Swallows edged the Hiroshima Carp 1-0.
Reliever Lim Chang Yong earned his 10th save. Muranaka (3-3) completed 7 2/3 innings on three hits and four walks.
In the PL, the Seibu Lions defeated the Orix Buffaloes 3-2 at Kyocera Dome.
--Additional reporting by Kim Han Il
(IHT/Asahi: May 10,2008)