The Giants didn't play their prettiest game of the season, but the outcome was a thing of beauty.
Yoshiyuki Kamei's walkoff solo blast leading off the 10th inning gave the Giants a 2-1 win over the Yakult Swallows and saved the Central League's front-runners from what could have been an ugly loss on Saturday at Tokyo Dome.
Kamei, who ended Tuesday's game in Hokkaido with a walkoff two-run shot in the 11th, hit his third sayonara homer of the season after struggling most of the afternoon before 44,076.
"They were running some good pitchers out there and I wasn't able to handle them well. But they changed pitchers and that allowed me to change my train of thought," said Kamei, who took Chunichi closer Hitoki Iwase deep to win a home game on April 25.
"I hadn't been doing well most of the day, but I no longer let that kind of thing drag into later at-bats, and I think that's what helped me come up with a good result," Kamei said.
The shot, which went to dead center, came off a Takehiko Oshimoto (1-4) 1-0 forkball that was down and in to the left-handed-hitting Kamei.
"He has been hitting the ball very well in practice, too," said Yomiuri skipper Tatsunori Hara. "He didn't have the kind of at-bats he usually does early on in the game, but he did well in that spot."
Yomiuri outhit Yakult 8-4 and drew six walks, but squandered chances with runners on base by stranding 12. They also had three errors.
Still, the two-time reigning CL champions' third extra-inning game this week ended with them going a season-high 23 games over .500.
Hara said getting wins is more important that focusing on the how and what.
"We need to come together as a team and win games like this. We're going to have a lot more like this down the road."
Yomiuri's Seth Greisinger and Yakult midseason pickup Yuki Tanaka started the game and were both sharp. Tanaka went a season-best six innings, allowing just a run on four hits and six walks--one intentional--while fanning six. Greisinger yielded a run on just three hits, but walked one and hit two, while striking out two.
The Giants broke through in the fourth inning, thanks to a clutch hit by backup catcher Kazunari Tsuruoka. Michihiro Ogasawara opened the inning by working a walk, but Tanaka retired the next two batters. Shigeyuki Furuki stroked a single into right to put runners on first and third before Tsuruoka fought off a tough pitch and sent a roller through the right side to plate Ogasawara for a 1-0 Giants lead.
The third-place Swallows needed help getting runners into scoring position, and the Giants obliged. In the third inning, Yomiuri's Daijiro Tanaka fielded Yuki Tanaka's sacrifice bunt and started what looked to be a double play. But the first baseman was called for obstruction and--after a brief protest from Hara--the Yakult pitcher was awarded first base.
Greisinger, though, got a groundout to end the inning.
In the sixth, Kazuki Fukuchi reached on Yomiuri's third error of the game--the second by Tanaka--but Greisinger retired the next three in order to end the threat.
Yakult finally broke through in the seventh, also thanks to the Giants as Greisinger plunked Aaron Guiel to open the frame. Guiel came home on a two-out single by Keizo Kawashima that made it 1-1.