Andy Phillips is back in the swing and one swing spoiled Stephen Randolph's impressive Central League debut on Sunday.
Randolph struck out 12 in his first game for the Yokohama BayStars and homered in his first at-bat in Japan, but it was Phillips' three-run jack that put the Carp in front for good in a 6-4 victory at Yokohama Stadium.
Phillips, who struggled after entering the Carp lineup on June 30, says he now had a swing he was comfortable with.
When his batting average dipped in the middle of July, manager Marty Brown said he was advised to drop Phillips to the farm team.
"After 30 at-bats, you don't send him to the farm team," Brown said. "It doesn't work like that."
Brown dropped the infielder, now starting in left field, down in the order and benched him. After that, Phillips began to hit, although he said the two were coincidental.
"I don't ever like to sit," Phillips said. "I thought I was getting close to where I needed to be before that. I was frustrated that I was sitting, but I wasn't playing very well. So what can you do? It just so happened [I started hitting] after the day off. I wish it was that easy. If it was...I'd ask him to sit me when I was in a slump more often."
His ninth home run came off reliever Atsushi Kizuka after two straight seventh-inning walks saw Randolph ushered from the mound.
Kenta Kurihara followed with his second homer of the game. And there was no controversy over this one.
Kurihara had opened the scoring in the second inning with a shot to center field that struck the wall high up near the horizontal home run line. Kurihara was powering down into his home run trot when the relay came back to the infield. He had to hustle back and slide in to first.
Brown argued the ball was a home run, the umps conferred and signaled for Kurihara to resume his trot.
"Nice home run, huh?" Kurihara said. "That was a home run, wasn't it?"
Acting BayStars manager Tomio Tashiro came out to argue to no avail.
Randolph, who was 5-for-15 with three doubles in 2004, when he started six games for the Arizona Diamondbacks, tagged the third pitch he saw from right-hander Takeshi Komatsu.
"We told Komatsu he could hit," Brown said. "He laid a slider up there and he [Randolph] hit it."
Takahiro Saeki homered in the third before Komatsu was relieved by Masayuki Hasegawa (2-1), who worked three innings of scoreless relief for the win.
The second error of the game by shortstop Takehiro Ishikawa put Masato Akamatsu on in the eighth and former BayStar Shogo Kimura doubled him home.
Seiichi Uchikawa, who went 3-for-5 to raise his Central League-leading batting average to .324, drove in a run in the eighth, off Mike Schultz, and in the ninth, off Katsuhiro Nagakawa. The Carp closer allowed three hits, but hung on for his 24th save.
The win kept the Carp nine games out of the CL's third and final playoff spot, and a half-game ahead of the fifth-place Hanshin Tigers.