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Baseball: Pinch-hitter Shigenobu wins it for Giants

Pinch hitter Shinnosuke Shigenobu lofts a fly ball to the wall that falls for a game-winning double, lifting the Yomiuri Giants to a 6-5 walk-off win over the Yakult Swallows on July 23, 2019. (Kyodo)

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Pinch-hitter Shinnosuke Shigenobu lofted a fly ball to the wall that fell for a game-winning double, lifting the Yomiuri Giants to a 6-5 walk-off win over the Yakult Swallows on Tuesday.

Before a crowd of 33,331 at Kyocera Dome, the Central League-leading Giants were forced into a ninth-inning dogfight after blowing a three-run lead in the eighth.

With the score tied 5-5 after reliever Kota Nakagawa (4-1) escaped a bases-loaded pickle in the top of the ninth inning, Kazuma Okamoto singled against Swallows reliever Kazuki Kondo (3-2). A sacrifice and an error put the go-ahead run on second, and the Swallows outfield came in shallow to cut off a run at the plate should Shigenobu single.

His fly ball carried over the head of left fielder Norichika Aoki and was ruled a double.

"I'm glad. I'm basically happy that we won. I was not focused on getting a hit so much as hitting the ball hard, and making something happen," Shigenobu said. "Before I went to bat, the manager told me I would be swinging away and not sacrificing."

Giants starting pitcher Shun Yamaguchi was on the verge of racking up his 11th win of the season but left the 5-2 game in the eighth with two outs and the tying run at the plate.

Rubby De La Rosa took the mound for Yomiuri and Aoki hit the right-hander's first pitch out to center for his 12th home run.

The Giants scored four runs in the first off Swallows right-hander David Buchanan. He allowed five runs on 10 hits, three walks and a hit batsman over five innings. Wladimir Balentien homered to lead off Yakult's fifth with the first hit off Yamaguchi.

With the game tied in the ninth, Yakult loaded the bases with two outs for the team's best hitter, Tetsuto Yamada, but Nakagawa got him to fly out and earned the win in relief.

Yamaguchi allowed four runs on four hits and two walks, while striking out eight over 7-2/3 innings.

Elsewhere in the CL, Xavier Batista hit two home runs and Tomohiro Abe homered to open the bottom of the 10th at Mazda Stadium, lifting the Hiroshima Carp to a 6-5 walk-off win over the Chunichi Dragons.

At Koshien Stadium, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo's two-out, two-strike, ninth-inning RBI double saved the DeNA BayStars from defeat in a see-saw game against the Hanshin Tigers that ended in a 6-6, 12-inning tie.

In the Pacific League, SoftBank shortstop Kenta Imamiya homered in his first at-bat after missing a month with left hamstring issues as the Hawks rolled to an 11-7 win over the Lotte Marines.

At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, Chihiro Kaneko (4-5) did not allow a hit over six innings for the Nippon Ham Fighters in a 5-2 win over his old team, the Orix Buffaloes.

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