Major League All-Stars 2, Japan All-Stars 1
TOKOROZAWA, Japan (AP) _ Even without Hideo Nomo pitching, Mike Piazza had Japanese fans cheering.
Piazza, who catches the Japanese Nomo with the Los Angeles Dodgers, delighted the fans Monday when he hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth inning to help the major-league all-star team to a 2-1 victory over a Japanese all-star team on the fourth day of the Goodwill Series.
Jeff Brantley of the Cincinnati Reds tied a white bath towel with ``USA″ written on it to a bat and waved it, imitating the Japanese style of cheering.
``Finally I got a fat one,″ said Piazza, whose .336 average was third in the National League this season. Piazza led the majors with 35 homers in 1993.
``It’s satisfying to hit a ball hard and show a little bit of power,″ Piazza said. ``I am a little more aggressive over here than I usually am in the United States. At home, you’re thinking about situations. Here, I’m just trying to hit the ball and obviously I got one over the fence.″
In the seventh inning, Baltimore’s Cal Ripken doubled to left field to score Gary Sheffield of the Florida Marlins with the winning run.
The Japanese all-star team got off to a good start as Keiji Muramatsu of the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks scored on a hit by Yomiuri Giants slugger Hideki Matsui in the first inning.
Starter Pat Hentgen of the Toronto Blue Jays gave up four hits, two walks and an unearned runs over seven innings.
In his start last Friday in the opener of the series, he allowed five hits and five runs in the first inning. He wound up with a no-decision in a game the American team lost 6-5.
``No one likes to look bad in any game,″ said Hentgen, 20-10 this season, who more than redeemed himself.
Jose Mesa of Cleveland pitched two hitless innings for a save.
The Americans lead the eight-game series 3-1. The teams are off Tuesday.
``I was ahead of the hitters all day today,″ Hentgen said. ``I was really happy today because my mom and dad are on the trip with me.″
Chosen as the game’s most outstanding player, Piazza said he was ``honored″ so much by the reception he has received here that he feels like Japan is his second home.
``I’ve been eating a lot of sushi here,″ a smiling Piazza said. ``Pretty soon I’ll start swimming.″
The fifth game in the series is scheduled for Wednesday at Fukuoka Dome in southern Japan.