An unruffled rookie and a couple of steady veterans got the job done Wednesday night as the Hiroshima Carp knocked off the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants 2-1.
Carp manager Marty Brown sent rookie right-hander Takeshi Komatsu to the hill and the first-year man out of Hosei University handled the pressure of facing the Giants in a raucous Tokyo Dome like a hardened veteran.
While Komatsu held the mighty Kyojin at bay for seven innings, Eishin Soyogi and Akihiro Higashide took care of the offense.
"He (Komatsu) pitched well," said Brown. "He made some adjustments and kept them off balance."
Komatsu (2-0) limited the Giants to just one unearned run on six hits through seven innings. The 22-year-old struck out three and did not walk a batter in his 79-pitch effort, although he did hit Lee Seung Yeop with a pitch.
Mike Schultz, a 201-centimeter right-hander from California, worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the Carp and closer Katsuhiro Nagakawa threw a scoreless ninth to pick up his 21st save.
Veteran Nagakawa looked a lot more nervous than the rookie starter ever did, however. He walked one batter and nearly gave up a sayonara homer to Lee, who jumped all over a pitch and pulled it just right of the foul pole in right. Lee would eventually pop out to short and Nagakawa got pinch-hitter Yoshitomo Tani to ground out to second to end it.
Carp shortstop Soyogi launched a rocket to left off Giants starter Hisanori Takahashi in the second inning, slamming a fastball up in the zone deep into the left-field bleachers for his second home run of the season, a solo shot.
Yomiuri got that run back in the home half of the fifth frame. With Lee on first base after taking a pitch in the back, catcher Kazunari Tsuruoka hit a shallow fly to center that skipped under the glove of charging outfielder Masato Akamatsu, allowing Lee to score all the way from first. Tsuruoka was credited with a hit on the play and an error was also charged to Akamatsu.
In the eighth, Hiroshima manufactured the go-ahead run off Takahashi. Shigenobu Shima pinch hit for pitcher Komatsu, and he promptly stroked a double down the right-field line. Shogo Kimura came on to run for Shima and a single by Akamatsu put runners at the corners with one out. That brought Higashide to the plate and he knocked a soft liner into center field to put his club up 2-1.
Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara got out the hook, replacing Takahashi with right-hander Kiyoshi Toyoda to finish off the inning. Takahashi was not happy with the sudden turn of events, throwing his glove and kicking a bat when he got to the dugout.
Left-hander Takahashi saw his record fall to (4-2) on the year. He allowed two runs on eight hits in 7 1/3 innings.
The Carp improved to 30-33-3 on the year with the win while the Giants fell to 40-21-6. Yomiuri won the series opener 4-3 on Tuesday in Gifu. The rubber match goes tonight at Tokyo Dome.