TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Yasuhiro Ogawa fanned eight and held the home team to a run Tuesday as the Yakult Swallows earned a crucial 4-1 series-opening victory against the Yomiuri Giants.
Ogawa (7-5) scattered six hits over eight innings of work and was backed by key hits from Wladimir Balentien. Yomiuri lefty Cristopher Mercedes (5-3) took the loss for allowing three runs at Tokyo Dome.
Ogawa pitched out of a jam in the first and fanned three in the second. He gave up a hit and a walk in the third but stranded the runners on a foul fly.
After two outs in the fourth, Giants rookie Shunta Tanaka went deep to left center against the Yakult right-hander and opened the scoring with his first home run of the season.
In the sixth, Tetsuto Yamada singled past short and Balentien drove in the tying run on a double off the glove of center fielder Shinnosuke Shigenobu.
Mercedes gave up a third hit to put runners on the corners, but an inning-ending double play limited further damage.
After giving up two straight hits in the eighth, Mercedes was replaced by Samuel Adames but the right-handed reliever found himself with runners on second and third after coaxing a ground out.
A wild pitch with Balentien at the plate allowed the go-ahead run, and Balentien bounced a single over Adames' head for his second RBI of the game. Keiji Obiki sent a line drive past third baseman Casey McGehee to make it 4-1.
Adames issued a walk to land himself in a one-out, bases-loaded jam, but the Dominican fanned Yuhei Nakamura and got Ogawa to fly out to shut the rally down.
In the home half of the inning, Ogawa yielded a leadoff double to Hayato Sakamoto. After fanning Shigenobu and getting McGehee to foul out, he struck out pinch-hitter Shinnosuke Abe swinging to end the threat.
Giants' lefty Kota Nakagawa provided scoreless relief in the ninth, and Taichi Ishiyama got his 28th save for a perfect ninth. Yakult improved to 61-61 and maintained second place standing in the Central League, edging the Giants further into third at 60-64.
Hawks 6, Eagles 1
At Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Kenta Imamiya opened the scoring with a two-run shot in the third, and his sacrifice fly capped a two-run fourth as SoftBank flew past Rakuten. Yuki Yanagita tacked on a late solo homer, his 33rd of the season.
Lions 7, Buffaloes 0
At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, Shinsaburo Tawata (14-5) fanned four and scattered seven hits in a complete game shutout. A sac fly in the fifth tacked on a run to Shogo Akiyama's two-run homer in the third, and a four-run sixth added insurance as PL-leading Seibu battered Orix.