Manager Tatsunori Hara urged his troops to match their opponents' passion, and the Yomiuri Giants turned the tables on the Hanshin Tigers after two bitter losses.
"I believe we're the stronger team, but this is a fight," Hara said after Yomiuri snapped a five-game losing streak to Hanshin with a comprehensive 10-2 victory on Sunday at Tokyo Dome.
In an eight-minute pregame meeting, Hara reminded his team of the historic meaning of Kyojin-Hanshin clashes and said his guys had to rise to the energy level the Tigers had shown the previous two days.
"We had to take the game to them, knowing how much it means to them," Hara said. "We're warriors, we have to battle."
To avoid a three-game sweep at home, Hara asked right-hander Shun Tono to pitch on four days' rest for the three-time defending Central League champs.
Tono (11-2), who took over the league lead in wins, allowed two unearned runs on seven hits.
"Working on short rest can be tough, but I thought about it and you know it's just one day different," said Tono, who notched two strikeouts before leaving with two outs in the sixth and the bases loaded.
"Two runs in 5-2/3 innings is satisfactory as a starter, but leaving the mound with the bases loaded is lame. It's asking too much of the bullpen to do that."
Tono's job was made easier by the kind of run support he's gotten all season--the Giants have now scored 98 runs in his 15 starts.
Yoshinobu Takahashi homered twice and drove in five runs to lead a Giants attack that knocked out Casey Fossum (2-5) after 2-1/3 innings and amassed 16 hits.
Michihiro Ogasawara's sacrifice fly opened the scoring in the first. Shinnosuke Abe hit his team-high 28th homer to lead off the second, and Takahashi capped the inning with a two-run homer. Takahashi came back for more in the third, belting his ninth homer of the season with Alex Ramirez and Abe on base.
Right-hander Keiji Uezono relieved Fossum and surrendered Ramirez's 27th homer leading off the bottom of the fifth.
The Tigers put two on the board in the sixth and drove Giants starter Tono from the mound.
A single and an error set the table. Craig Brazell singled in the Tigers' first run and another scored on a groundout. A double by Lin Wei-chu and a seven-pitch walk by Ryo Asai loaded the bases. With Tomoaki Kanemoto on as a pinch-hitter, the Giants replaced the right-handed Tono. Lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi came on and retired Kanemoto on a grounder to first.
Hisayoshi Chono tacked on the Giants' ninth run in the bottom of the seventh. With Abe on second, the rookie stroked an RBI double off lefty Masanori Fujihara, the Tigers' fourth pitcher.
Tetsuya Matsumoto doubled in a run in the eighth with his fourth hit of the game. They were his first hits since April 25, when he suffered a thigh injury that kept him out of the lineup until Friday's series opener.
In Akita, Dionys Cesar and Kazuhiro Wada each drove in a pair of runs as the Chunichi Dragons beat the host Tokyo Yakult Swallows 8-5.
The Swallows' Norichika Aoki became the 258th player with 1,000 career hits, reaching the plateau in 770 games, the second-lowest total after Ichiro Suzuki's 757.
In Hiroshima, Junpei Shinoda (3-1) allowed two runs in seven innings as the Carp beat the Yokohama BayStars 4-2.
The Carp's Takahiro Iwamoto went 3-for-4 with his first career home run and two RBIs, while Takuro Ishii had two hits, giving him 2,373 in his career.
He is now 10th on the career hit list, having surpassed Dragons skipper Hiromitsu Ochiai's 2,371.
In the Pacific League, the Chiba Lotte Marines won a see-saw contest at home against the league-leading Saitama Seibu Lions, coming out on top 9-7.
Right-hander Shuichiro Osada (2-1) took the loss, allowing five runs, two earned, while recording just two outs in the eighth inning.
In Sendai, Kensuke Tanaka's grand slam capped a six-run ninth inning as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 11-5, for their for their 13th win in 15 games.
In Fukuoka, Orix's Kazuki Kondo (3-5) allowed a run in eight innings as the Buffaloes beat the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 9-1.
The Buffaloes bombarded Hawks starter Sho Iwasaki (0-2) in a six-run second inning.