Kazuhiro Hatakeyama opened the scoring with a three-run home run in the first inning to help power the Tokyo Yakult Swallows past the Orix Buffaloes 8-1 on Tuesday night in interleague action at Kyocera Dome.
Naomichi Nishiura cracked a two-run blast in the second inning, Tetsuto Yamada added a solo shot in the fifth to back starter Masato Furuno (3-0) as the Swallows won their third consecutive game.
But it was Hatakeyama who sent the momentum in favor of the Swallows with one swing, blasting his 17th homer early in the game. It was his eighth homer in 12 interleague contests.
“I’ve been able to get some good swings,” said Hatakeyama, who has already matched his homer total from last season, and is alone atop the Central League in longballs and tied for the lead in RBIs with Yokohama DeNA BayStars slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.
Hatakeyama was up against an unfamiliar foe, but was able to take his usual cuts.
“I was just concentrating on hitting the ball toward center field,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hector Luna’s two-run double in the seventh inning helped the Chunichi Dragons top the Chiba Lotte Marines 7-6 for the franchise’s 5,000th victory.