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Dragons cruise past Giants

by Hiroki Noda

Kyodo News

Atsushi Fujii singled in two runs in a four-run first inning, Chen Wei-yin pitched 6 2/3 shutout frames and the Chunichi Dragons beat the Yomiuri Giants 5-0 in Game 1 of the final stage of the Central League Climax Series on Wednesday.

The Dragons, who had been awarded a one-win advantage as the league champions, took a 2-0 lead in the series. The first team to four wins advances to the Japan Series beginning Oct. 30 against the Chiba Lotte Marines.

It looked as if the game was over after the first inning. Chunichi jumped out to a 4-0 lead after Chen pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the frame.

Against Shun Tono, who started on three days’ rest, Masahiro Araki led off the bottom of the first with a base hit and advanced on a sacrifice bunt before scoring on Masahiko Morino’s single to left field.

“It was a clutch situation. We wanted to score first badly, so I concentrated at the plate,” Morino said. “In an intense postseason game, it gets hard to swing the bat smoothly. But I managed to come up with results (two hits), so that’s very encouraging.”

After Kazuhiro Wada drew a walk to put runners on first and second, Tony Blanco doubled off the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.

Fujii followed with a broken-bat single that drove in two runs to make it 4-0 at Nagoya Dome.

Chen retired the first nine Giants in order and escaped jams in the fourth and fifth before being relieved by Akifumi Takahashi with two outs in the seventh.

The Taiwanese left-hander allowed seven hits, struck out five and walked none in a 98-pitch outing. After Takahashi, Takuya Asao worked the eighth and Hitoki Iwase closed out the ninth.

“I just pitched hard without thinking too much,” Chen said. “I didn’t think about pitching deep into the game. I tried to think even three or four innings would be good if I could keep them in check.”

Naomichi Donoue added an RBI single in the seventh.

Tono was charged with four runs over four innings.