Balentien hits 51st, needs 4 to tie Japan’s HR record

TOKYO — Former Seattle Mariner Wladimir Balentien hit a solo home run Wednesday to move within four of tying Japanese baseball’s season record of 55.

Balentien’s Yakult Swallows have 32 games remaining in the regular season for him to equal the record set by Sadaharu Oh in 1964 and matched by ex-major leaguers Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Alex Cabrera in 2002.

Balentien’s 51st homer of the season came in the bottom of the ninth inning at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo. The Chunichi Dragons beat the Swallows 11-7.

Balentien, who was born in Curacao, played for the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds before signing with the Swallows in 2011. He hit 31 homers in each of his first two seasons in Japan.

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