After losing a heartbreaker the day before, the Yokohama BayStars showed on Sunday that they had a little heart of their own.
Shuichi Murata and Terrmel Sledge drove in a run each in the sixth inning at Jingu Stadium as the BayStars avoided a sweep in the three-game series with a hang-on-by-your-fingernails 2-1 win over the Yakult Swallows in a Central League matchup.
"It's good for our team to bounce back like that after a tough loss like yesterday," Sledge said. "It just shows how hard we can play."
Ryohei Kawamoto got the start at catcher for the Swallows on Sunday, a day after his ninth-inning pinch-hit two-run homer gave the home team a 13-12 walkoff win over Yokohama.
Sunday's game was characterized by the Swallows' blown chances and lost opportunities. Yakult left the bases loaded four times on the afternoon--in the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings--and they stranded 16 baserunners in total. They also out-hit Yokohama 9-3.
The BayStars got some stellar performances on defense as well. Center fielder Daisuke Hayakawa robbed Norichika Aoki of a run-scoring extra-base hit in the first inning with a spectacular diving catch in left-center and outfielder Yuki Yoshimura took a potential RBI double away from Jamie D'Antona in the bottom of the third on a running shoestring catch in right.
Yokohama second baseman Jose Castillo flashed the leather in the ninth, ranging far to his left to stab an infield single by Shinya Miyamoto that would have tied or won the game for Yakult, had it gotten through.
Swallows slugger Aaron Guiel opened the scoring with a solo homer to right to lead off the second inning. Guiel's blast, his fourth of the season, came off BayStars starter Shigeru Kaga.
Yakult starter Kyohei Muranaka had a no-hitter going through five innings and it looked like another 1-0 shutout might be in order. Murata ended those hopes, however, when he laced an RBI double to left-center after Seiichi Uchikawa had drawn a walk. Sledge followed up by ripping a shot into right field that scored Murata with what turned out to be the game-winning run, although Sledge was thrown out at second on the play.
Kentaro Kuwahara (1-0) ended up getting the win, working 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Kaga. Shun Yamaguchi worked a scoreless ninth to earn his second save of the season, despite giving up two hits and a walk to load the bases.
Muranaka (1-1) took the loss. He gave up both runs on a pair of hits and five walks over six innings.
Aoki went 3-for-4 at the dish with a couple of doubles and a walk in a losing cause to boost his average to .514.
In other CL action Sunday, Michihiro Ogasawara and rookie Hisayoshi Chono both homered in a five-run fourth inning as the Yomiuri Giants topped the Carp 10-3 in Hiroshima.
Right-hander Shun Tono (1-1) worked seven innings to get the win, giving up three runs on seven hits and four walks. Shinnosuke Abe belted a solo homer in the sixth for Yomiuri.
At Nagoya Dome, Motonobu Tanishige drove in two runs in a five-run eighth inning for Chunichi as the Dragons beat the Hanshin Tigers 6-1.
Kazuhiro Wada added a solo home run for the Dragons in the second to back eight solid innings from 19-year-old righty Junki Ito (1-0), who allowed just one run on four hits and four walks.
In the Pacific League, the Seibu Lions blanked the Nippon-Ham Fighterrs 4-0, and the Lotte Marines defeated the Orix Buffaloes 10-4. The Softbank Hawks edged the Rakuten Eagles 3-2.