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Yoshimi, bullpen shut down Giants

by

Kyodo News

NAGOYA — Kazuki Yoshimi threw 7 1/3 shutout innings and helped his own cause with an RBI single as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Yomiuri Giants 2-0 on Thursday to move one win away from the Japan Series.

The Game 2 win gave Chunichi a 3-0 lead in the final stage of the Central League Climax Series. The Dragons had a one-win advantage as the league champions before the series even got started.

Yoshimi got Chunichi on the board in the second inning when he singled up the middle with two outs and runners on first and second at Nagoya Dome.

The Dragons had a chance to make the third a big inning against Tetsuya Utsumi, loading the bases with no outs on two singles and a hit batter.

But they managed only one run as Atsushi Fujii followed a sacrifice fly by Tony Blanco with an inning-ending double play.

The two runs were more than enough for Yoshimi. The right-hander scattered five hits, walked one and struck out six in a 103-pitch outing.

“I threw every pitch with conviction,” Yoshimi said. “I wasn’t really in good form, but I just pitched as hard as I could without worrying about the outcome.”

“(Catcher Motonobu) Tanishige-san called a great game. As for my RBI single, I got myself ready to swing at anything in the strike zone. I was fortunate that the ball rolled into the outfield,” he added.

Akifumi Takahashi, who relieved Yoshimi with a runner on second and one out in the eighth, retired Michihiro Ogasawara on a groundout and struck out Alex Ramirez to end the inning. Takuya Asao got the final two outs for the save.

“Yoshimi gave himself run support and held them scoreless,” Chunichi manager Hiromitsu Ochiai said. “You don’t lose a game if you can hold the opposing team scoreless.”

Chunichi extended its home winning streak against Yomiuri to 11 games dating back to July 9.

The Dragons can earn their first Japan Series berth since 2007 with a win, or even a tie, in Game 3 on Friday.