Kawabata’s slam carries Buffaloes to 3rd straight win
The Kansai Derby had a grand opening.
Rookie Takayoshi Kawabata’s first pro home run was a grand slam, and Chihiro Kaneko tossed a four-hitter as the Orix Buffaloes shut out the Hanshin Tigers 6-0 at Kyocera Dome Osaka on Tuesday.
Kawabata, whose three-run double off Yakult’s Tony Barnette last week at Jingu Stadium [the righty’s first runs allowed this season], took loser Randy Messenger (3-3) deep to left in the sixth to break up a scoreless struggle.
“I was surprised myself at the way the ball came off the bat,” Kawabata said in the hero interview. “I wasn’t trying to hit a homer. I just wanted to put the ball in play.”
Kaneko fanned 11 with no walks, punching out the side in the ninth for his 13th career shutout. The win was skipper Akinobu Okada’s 100th interleague victory.
“Last time he gave up five runs in the first inning -- it was unreal,” Okada said. “But he was great from the third inning on.
“As for Kawabata, he got the job done at Jingu the other day. He’s good in the clutch.”
Lee Dae Ho also went deep, stroking his third homer in as many games, a two-run blast to center.
The Tigers fell to 0-5 in interleague play.
GIANTS 5, LIONS 2
Hisayoshi Chono broke a 1-1 tie with an infield RBI single in the seventh, and pinch-hitter Yoshiyuki Kamei followed with a two-run double to center as Yomiuri stayed undefeated against the PL and won its eighth straight decision [a three-year high], topping host Seibu.
D.J. Houlton (3-3) worked around four hits and five walks to win his third as the Giants became the first CL team to win its first five interleague games. Kamei’s double popped out of Esteban German’s glove after the center fielder chased down liner to the gap in left center.
FIGHTERS 6, BAYSTARS 2
Terrmel Sledge slugged his career sixth grand slam in Japan, and Kazuhito Tadano (3-0) kept his record perfect by holding Yokohama to two runs over six innings as Nippon Ham won at home.
Sho Nakata also had two hits and an RBI for the Fighters.
HAWKS 9, CARP 1
Kenji Akashi and Shuhei Fukuda each had three hits and an RBI as SoftBank topped visiting Hiroshima.
Hiroki Kokubo had two hits to leave him one shy of 2,000.
The Dragons and Eagles, and Swallows and Marines were rained out.
PL 16, CL 11, 1 TIE