Veteran Mitsunobu Takahashi hit the game-deciding home run Tuesday night at Tokyo's Jingu Stadium as the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers edged the Yakult Swallows 4-3 in a game called after seven innings due to a thunderstorm.
Hanshin starter Ryan Vogelsong (3-2) picked up the win, holding the Swallows to three runs on five hits through five innings. He struck out four batters and also pitched in offensively himself, hitting his first home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth.
The Swallows did get to Vogelsong early, with Kazuhiro Hatakeyama smacking a two-run homer to right after Norichika Aoki had lined a single up the middle.
In the top half of the third, the Tigers struck back with two of their own. Hanshin loaded the bases with three straight singles off Swallows lefty Masanori Ishikawa, bringing cleanup hitter Tomoaki Kanemoto to the plate. Kanemoto stroked a two-run single through the right side of the infield to tie things up.
The Swallows went ahead by a run in the third when Kazuki Fukuchi scored from third while Shinya Miyamoto was caught in a rundown between first and second.
That lead didn't stand for long, however. Vogelsong came up with none on and one out in the fourth and crushed an Ishikawa delivery into the seats in left.
With the game tied 3-3 in the fifth, Tigers infielder Takahashi went yard off Ishikawa, a solo shot to right just beyond the reach of outfielder Fukuchi. The next batter, Takashi Toritani, cranked a ball deep to right--plenty of home-run distance, but just a few feet outside the foul pole. Toritani would eventually fly out to end the inning, and Ishikawa's night.
With the Swallows taking the field to start the eighth, the heavens opened up and a hard rain started to fall amid intermittent lightning. The game was eventually called off.
Ishikawa (8-8) took the loss, allowing four runs on eight hits in five innings. He struck out four and walked a pair.
The Tigers improved to 60-32-1 with the win, while Yakult fell to 43-47-2. On Monday at Jingu, the Swallows edged Hanshin 4-3.
The league now goes into its annual four-day All-Star break. Game 1 of the two-game All-Star series takes place Thursday at Osaka Dome, with Game 2 slated for Friday night in Yokohama.