Yomiuri’s Utsumi hurls two-hit masterpiece


The only thing Tetsuya Utsumi had to worry about were a pair of errors made by teammate Michihiro Ogasawara.

Because the Chunichi Dragons sure weren’t putting up much of a fight.

Utsumi tossed a two-hit shutout, and Ogasawara backed him up with a homer and four RBIs as the Giants returned to Central League competition after six weeks of interleague play with a 5-0 win over the Dragons on Friday night at Tokyo Dome.

“I just tried to do my usual pitching, taking one batter at a time and followed (catcher Shinnosuke) Abe’s lead.”

Utsumi (6-2) won for the first time since May 9 behind a dominating performance on the mound. The left-hander struck out nine and finished without walking a batter. He gave up a hit in the first inning and didn’t give up another until the eighth.

“He did a great job,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “His condition is really good right now and this gives us a great start after the interleague.”

Utsumi only allowed four baserunners, two of whom reached on Ogasawara’s errors at third.

“We did not do so well during the interleague games,” Utsumi said. “So I wanted to make sure we got off to a good start against our own league teams tonight.”

Ogasawara made up for an uncharacteristically poor night in the field with an RBI single in the third which gave the Giants a 1-0 lead.

“I was embarrassed because I made a silly error,” Ogasawara said, referring to a routine grounder that went through his legs. “So I felt I needed to get a hit in that situation and give us the lead.”

The Yomiuri slugger added a three-run homer in the seventh.

“Ogasawara’s three-run home run put the game away for us,” Hara said.

Abe also had a solo homer, a deep drive to right that struck the top of a sign hanging over the outfield seats.

“I won ¥1 million,” Abe said, referring to the prize players receive for hitting the outfield signs. “This was a present to our wonderful fans.”

The Giants won their first game back in regular competition after struggling to a 12-12 mark during interleague play. Dragons starter Chen Wei Yin (4-6) was erratic on the mound for most of the night, allowing two runs on eight hits while walking two and hitting a pair of batters.

Tigers at BayStars — ppd.

Swallows at Carp — ppd.

Fighters top Buffs

OSAKA (Kyodo) Six pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Orix Buffaloes 3-0 and ended their winning streak at three games.

Lions 8, Hawks 1

At Seibu Dome, Hideaki Wakui threw one-run ball over eight innings and Toru Hosokawa hit a grand slam as Saitama Seibu ended a three-game losing streak with a win over Fukuoka Softbank.

Eagles at Marines — ppd.