The suddenly soaring Yakult Swallows rode the bat of Kazuhiro Hatakeyama to a .500 record Tuesday night at Jingu Stadium.
Hatakeyama went 3-for-4 with a home run, a pair of RBIs and three runs scored as the Swallows eclipsed the Yokohama BayStars 4-1.
Yakult starter Kyohei Muranaka worked 6 2/3 innings to improve to 5-9 on the season. The third-year lefty allowed one run on seven hits. Relievers Kenichi Matsuoka and Takehiko Oshimoto kept Yokohama hitless through the eighth inning and closer Lim Chang Yong came on to pitch the ninth and earn his 24th save, despite giving up three hits.
Kentaro Kuwahara (2-3) ended up taking the loss for Yokohama. He was pressed into action after BayStars starter Futoshi Kobayashi left the game with a no-hitter going, even though his night lasted just one full batter and 10 total pitches.
After getting Swallows leadoff hitter Kazuki Fukuchi to fly out to left, the rookie right-hander hit Yakult veteran Shinya Miyamoto in the helmet with a slider, prompting the home-plate umpire to send him to an early shower for a dangerous pitch.
Kuwahara gave up one hit and an unearned run in 1 2/3 innings before giving way to Hiroki Sanada.
Hatakeyama scored the Swallows' first run in the second inning when a groundball off the bat of Yasushi Iihara got past BayStars second baseman Toshihisa Nishi. An error was charged on the play as Hatakeyama came around to score from second.
In the home half of the fourth, a Hatakeyama single up the middle off Sanada scored Norichika Aoki, who had singled and stolen second. A couple of batters later, Iihara smashed a sacrifice fly to center to score Hatakeyama from third.
The BayStars got one back in the seventh on an RBI infield single by Hiroaki Onishi.
Hatakeyama hit a solo homer, his third of the season, in the bottom of the eighth off Michiomi Yoshihara to complete the scoring.