Randy Messenger allowed a run in six innings to earn his ninth win as the Hanshin Tigers took down the Hiroshima Carp 2-1 on Monday evening.
As Nippon Professional Baseball resumed play after the weekend's All-Star break, the second-place Tigers moved within seven games of the runaway Central League leaders before 46,769 at Koshien Stadium.
Messenger (9-5) issued a two-out bases-loaded walk in the third, but allowed only two more base runners in his 128-pitch outing. The right-hander struck out five, walked five and allowed six hits.
"Anytime you can beat these guys, especially at home in front of our fans, is great," said Messenger, who is tied for the league lead in wins with Tomoyuki Sugano of the Yomiuri Giants.
"(The wins are) thanks to my teammates. They're the ones scoring the runs and making the plays behind me, making it easy for me to get wins."
The Tigers overturned that deficit in the fourth against Carp starter Yusuke Nomura.
After Nomura retired the first two hitters, Takashi Toritani singled and scored on a double by Kento Itohara. The rookie then scored from second on a single by Tigers catcher Ryutaro Umeno.
A trio of Tigers came out of the bullpen to hold Hiroshima to two hits over the final three innings, with Rafael Dolis working the ninth to earn his 24th save, tying him for the CL lead with the Chunichi Dragons' Shinji Tajima.
Nomura (5-4) lasted five innings before he was pulled for a pinch hitter. The right-hander surrendered eight hits and struck out three without issuing a walk.
BayStars 2, Swallows 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Shota Imanaga (6-5) threw 6-1/3 shutout innings, went 2-for-2 and scored a run, while Yoshitomo Tsutsugo singled the pitcher home and hit a solo shot as DeNA won a pitcher's duel against Yakult's Juri Hara (2-6).
Giants 5, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, Miles Mikolas (8-4) went to the mound with a lead after Hisaysoshi Chono led off the game with a homer. The right-hander allowed a run over seven innings, and singled in two sixth-inning insurance runs in Yomiuri's win over Chunichi.
Marines 3, Buffaloes 2
At Zozo Marine Stadium, with his team down to its last strike and trailing 2-1 in the ninth, Shohei Kato doubled off Orix closer Yoshihisa Hirano (2-5) to lift Lotte to a walk-off victory.
Hawks 3, Lions 1
At Yafuoku Dome, Nao Higashihama (9-3) allowed a run in 7-2/3 innings and SoftBank's two All-Star MVPs powered the Hawks to a come-from-behind win over Seibu.
Alfredo Despaigne, the MVP of Saturday's Game 2, tied the game at one in the fourth with his 22nd home run, before Seiichi Uchikawa, the Game 1 MVP on Friday, singled home the go-ahead run in the fifth.