The Pacific League home run king held court in Game 4 of the Japan Series at Seibu Dome on Wednesday.
Saitama Seibu Lions cleanup man Takeya Nakamura, who was hitless through the first two games before going deep in Game 3, drilled a pair of long two-run homers for a four-RBI night that backed Takayuki Kishi as Seibu blanked the Yomiuri Giants 5-0 in front of 27,930.
Kishi became the 12th pitcher to post a shutout in his Series debut with a four-hitter, but Nakamura gave the Giants--who had won two straight in the Series--fits.
Nicknamed "Mr. Second Helping," the stocky slugger broke an 0-for-10 spell in Game 3 and ate up the last two pitches he saw from Yomiuri starter Seth Greisinger, swatting a fourth-inning shot and a sixth-inning blast.
"[Hiroyuki] Nakajima did well to get on base and I just wanted to make sure I didn't hit into a double play," said the seventh-year third baseman, who more than doubled his previous career total with 46 longballs in the regular season.
Of the second blast, Nakamura said: "I got it perfectly and it felt great. In the first and second games, I didn't even get a hit. But after yesterday's homer, I think I relaxed and came into this game feeling good."
It looks like the Lions have Greisinger's number. They pounded him for 14 runs over nine innings in two interleague games this season, and knocked him out with five runs in five-plus innings this time.
Kishi, on the other hand, left the Giants pouring over some troubling numbers. The second-year right-hander handcuffed them, allowing just one walk, while fanning 10 to earn the win.
He became just the second pitcher to record a strikeout in every inning, matching Takashi Nishimoto's 1981 achievement.
Kishi didn't allow a runner to reach third base and closed out the 147-pitch effort by retiring the side in order in the ninth.
"I pitched over my head," said Kishi, who had two shutouts in the regular season. "Usually I'm nervous but strangely enough, I wasn't today. A lot of times I go hard from the start and tire out and give up hits late. I made sure to be aware of that and to pitch hard."
The Lions came out with a purpose and it was evident from the start.
"We couldn't get it going in the second and third games, but we came together as a team today and turned around the momentum," said Seibu skipper Hisanobu Watanabe, who added that his No. 4 hitter was due.
"He struggled for a time there, but I thought if he got one it would make things happen for us," Watanabe said of Nakamura. "The fact that he hit two for us tonight boosted the other players and I think he can carry it into tomorrow's game."
The Lions scored in the first without using up an out. Yasuyuki Kataoka opened the frame by slapping Greisinger's first pitch into right field.
He stole second and No. 2 man Takumi Kuriyama ripped a double past Lee Seung Yeop and inside the first-base line to plate Kataoka for a 1-0 lead.
With no outs and a runner in scoring position, Greisinger rebounded to get Nakajima looking at strike three and a pair of fly balls to escape further damage.
It was the first time in the Series the Lions scored first, and it was all they'd need.
Kishi didn't giving up a hit over the first three innings, but he had to work through a lot of deep counts and long battles.
Alex Ramirez fanned on a 3-2 pitch in the first, and Kishi had to go to full counts on all three batters he retired in the second inning.
Ryota Wakiya got the Giants' first hit, an infield single that a jumping Kishi got some leather on but couldn't field cleanly.
The Giants, though, stranded Wakiya, who only made it to second base.
Greisinger fared a lot better than in his regular-season outings against the Lions. After allowing the first two batters to string together two hits and a run, he retired nine consecutive batters.
The right-hander broke up that string when he came too close inside and hit Nakajima on the elbow--on an 0-2 pitch--to open the fourth. The two exchanged words and started toward each other. Yomiuri catcher Kazunari Tsuruoka got between the two, but both benches emptied, delaying the game for a few minutes.
Greisinger's next pitch, though, was a fastball that found the heart of the plate. It also found the sweet spot on Nakamura's bat as he smoked a two-run homer deep to left to give the Lions a 3-0 advantage.
"Nakajima got hit by a pitch, so I was absolutely sure knew they'd pitch me inside, too," Nakamura said.