Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara joined the 500 club on Thursday night, and his team made sure he did it in style.
Hayato Sakamoto homered twice and Shugo Fujii pitched seven solid innings at Tokyo Dome as the Giants evened their interleague record at 1-1 with a 9-1 pounding of the Seibu Lions.
The victory was the 500th as manager for Giants skipper Hara, in his second stint at the Yomiuri helm, and it came in a matchup of the two league leaders. Seibu took their interleague opener 3-1 on Wednesday night.
While the potent Giants offense erupted for 13 hits--including four home runs--on Thursday, Fujii deserved a big pat on the back from Hara. The veteran lefty limited the hard-hitting Lions to one run on five hits through seven innings. Fujii struck out nine and did not issue a walk in boosting his record to 3-1 in 2010.
Daisuke Ochi and Tetsuya Yamaguchi each worked a scoreless inning in relief for the home team.
"We had great balance today with our hitting and pitching," said Hara, who also skippered Japan to victory in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. "The two home runs by Sakamoto were huge--Fujii showed great mechanics today and pitched a strong game. Obviously I'm happy to get my 500th win, but it's more important to me that the team got a win today."
The Giants got started with a solo homer to center by Shinnosuke Abe in the second inning before torching Leos starter Kazuhisa Ishii and reliever Ryoma Nogami for six runs on seven hits in the third.
Sakamoto led off the bottom of the third by slicing a solo homer to right off Ishii, Alex Ramirez connected for an RBI single to left and, after an Ishii wild pitch allowed two baserunners to move up 90 feet each, Kenji Yano drilled a two-run double into the gap in left-center.
That spelled the end of the night for left-hander Ishii, a former Dodger and Met. Seibu skipper Hisanobu Watanabe brought righty Nogami in from the bullpen and he got taken deep for a two-run homer on his first pitch of the night by Edgar Gonzalez, the first home run of the season for the former San Diego Padre, who is in his first season here.
"That felt good," said Gonzalez of his first home run in Japan. "It was a long time coming."
But the Giants offensive outburst was not done yet. In the bottom of the fifth, Sakamoto jacked his second homer the night, and his eighth of the season, to left, a two-run shot off right-hander Yasuhiro Tanaka.
The Lions finally got on the board in the seventh when pinch-hitter Hisashi Takayama blooped an RBI single to right off Fujii, but that was all they could muster.
Ishii (4-2) took the loss. The 36-year-old veteran got hammered for six runs on seven hits--including two home runs--in just 2 2/3 innings.
The Giants next host the Lotte Marines for a pair at Tokyo Dome on Saturday and Sunday, while Seibu heads down to Yokohama for two this weekend.