Hanshin Tigers slugger Craig Brazell had been having a night he'd like to forget Wednesday at Tokyo Dome. The burly American had struck out his first three trips to the plate, but his fortunes changed dramatically in the eighth inning when his bases-loaded, one-out flare single to center scored two runs to break a 1-1 deadlock as the Tigers went on to squeak past the Yomiuri Giants 3-2.
Brazell, who connected on a 2-2 delivery from reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi in the eighth, helped give Hanshin its fourth win in a row in the Central League as the club improved to 9-7 on the season. Brazell homered and drove in two runs as the Tigers stormed back to win Tuesday's series opener 9-7.
"He's in good condition and he did a good job of making contact to get that timely hit," Tigers manager Akinobu Mayumi said of Brazell.
Hanshin starter Yasutomo Kubo (2-1) went seven solid innings to get the win Wednesday, while closer Kyuji Fujikawa worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season.
Yamaguchi (1-1) was saddled with the loss. He allowed two runs in just one-third of an inning in relief.
Kentaro Sekimoto homered off Giants starter Dicky Gonzalez in the top of the first. His solo shot to right-center barely carried the wall, another in a long list of so-called Tokyo Dome homers aided by the air jets used to help support the dome's roof.
Yomiuri knotted the score in the fifth. Alex Ramirez led off the inning with a single and Shinnosuke Abe followed up with another single off Hanshin starter Kubo. Hisayoshi Chono bunted the runners over and Yoshiyuki Kamei hit a sacrifice fly to left field that allowed Ramirez to scamper home from third with the tying run.
In the top of the eighth, Yamaguchi hit Kenji Jojima with a pitch to load the bases, bringing Brazell to the plate. He worked the count to 2-2 before reaching out and semi-blooping what turned out to be the game-winning hit into right-center field.
Giants infielder Lee Seung-yeop hit a solo homer off Hanshin reliever Tomoyuki Kubota in the bottom of the eighth to make it a one-run game. It was Lee's first home run of the season and it came in his only at-bat of the game.
In a bizarre coincidence, each starter went seven innings, gave up one run on five hits and two walks and each man threw 101 pitches While Kubo (2-1) got the win, Gonzalez--who was pitching on four days' rest--did not figure in the decision.
The Tigers will try to sweep the Giants in their own barn Thursday in Game 3 of the series.
"It always feels good when you're on a winning streak," Mayumi said. "And we"ll just try to keep it going as long as we can."
Elsewhere in the CL, the Yokohama BayStars defeated the Chunichi Dragons 9-4 at Nagoya Dome. At Mazda Zoom-Zoom Stadium, the Hiroshima Carp beat the Yakult Swallows 6-3.