NAGOYA – Rookie right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa threw his second shutout of the season and won his Central League-leading ninth decision in the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ 4-0 whitewash of the Chunichi Dragons on Saturday afternoon.
Wladimir Balentien stayed on his torrid home run pace in a possible chase of the Japanese single-season record of 55, blasting a two-run drive off lefty Yudai Ono (4-6) with two outs in the fourth at Nagoya Dome.
Ogawa (9-2), who patterns his pitching style after Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, scattered eight hits, struck out six and did not issue a walk until the ninth inning. He escaped a no-out bases-loaded jam in the seventh.
“I had to make sure I was focused in that situation not to get hit. I regrouped and tried to shut them down (in the seventh),” said Ogawa, who got Ryosuke Hirata swinging at a forkball for the third strike and induced Motonobu Tanishige’s flyout to center before retiring Hirokazu Ibata on a groundout to end the threat.
Tsuyoshi Ueda had a two-run triple for insurance in the seventh.
“A lot of local fans came out to watch me pitch today and I was somehow able to get a victory, so I am very happy,” said the 23-year-old Ogawa, who hails from Aichi Prefecture. The right-hander won his fourth consecutive decision.
The Dragons, who fell 10 games below .500, put runners at the corners in the ninth, but Hirata hit into a game-ending double play.
“My teammates scored for me, so even when I got in jams I was able to keep my cool and go after batters. I just want to keep focusing in each and every game,” said Ogawa, whose father and mother came to watch him pitch. “I have my parents to thank for my baseball career. I wanted to win in front of them.”
The last Central League rookie to throw two shutouts in a season was Hiroshi Kisanuki, with the Yomiuri Giants in 2003.
Tigers 3, Carp 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, pinch hitter Tsuyoshi Nishioka drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning and Katsuhiko Saka added a two-run single in support of Daiki Enokida, who pitched six scoreless innings in Hanshin’s win over Hiroshima.
Enokida (3-5) won his first decision since April 18.
Tigers shortstop Takashi Toritani appeared in his 1,250th consecutive game, placing him in a tie for third on the all-time list with Hideki Matsui.
Kan Otake (5-5) took the loss.
BayStars 4, Giants 3
At Tokyo Dome, Sho Aranami’s two-run double off Scott Mathieson overturned a 3-2, ninth-inning deficit after Yomiuri closer Kentaro Nishimura (2-3) loaded the bases with one out.
The win was Yokohama’s first at Tokyo Dome since Oct. 5, 2011.
Nishimura surrendered a leadoff double to Noriharu Yamazaki, walked Hitoshi Tamura and was ejected after hitting Norihiro Nakamura in the head. Aranami followed with a one-out double down the first-base line.
Eagles 8, Hawks 4
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Andruw Jones went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer off Hawks starter Vicente Padilla (2-4) and three RBIs to help power Tohoku Rakuten to gain sole possession of first with a one-game advantage over Fukuoka Softbank.
Rakuten rallied for two runs to go ahead for good in the fifth, featuring Casey McGehee’s go-ahead RBI groundout. Rookie Takahiro Norimoto (7-6), who lost a start a day earlier, pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win.
Buffaloes 4, Fighters 0
At Sapporo Dome, Lee Dae Ho homered and drove in two runs, Kei Igawa (3-2) allowed four hits over 7 2/3 scoreless innings and Orix beat Hokkaido Nippon Ham for the second day in a row.
Lee opened the scoring with an RBI single in the third and took Hiroshi Kisanuki (6-4) deep to left leading off the sixth. Orix catcher Hikaru Ito chipped in with a two-run single. The Fighters lost two in a row for the first time since June 5-6 against Yomiuri.
Lions 7, Marines 3
At Seibu Dome, Ken Togame went the distance on three-hit ball to win his first decision since June 2 as Seibu sent Chiba Lotte to its fourth straight defeat while winning its fourth in a row.
The Marines dropped into second place.
Kyohei Nagae’s tiebreaking solo drive in the fifth was his first career homer. Esteban German was 4-for-4 with an RBI triple.
Togame (6-5) had five strikeouts and walked none in a 111-pitch outing.
The Marines’ Yuji Nishino (7-3) yielded five runs in 6 1/3 innings in the loss.