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Yakult’s Masubuchi flirts with no-hitter

Kyodo

Tokyo Yakult right-hander Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi flirted with Japanese baseball’s first no-hitter of the season as the Swallows flew past the Yokohama BayStars 4-0 on Sunday.

The fifth-year Masubuchi, who made 57 appearances out of the bullpen last season, allowed just one hit over eight frames, departing Jingu Stadium after six strikeouts and 122 pitches to lead the Swallows to their first victory of the season.

Kazuhiro Hatakeyama backed up Masubuchi with his first two homers of the year — both solo shots — off Yokohama starter Shogo Yamamoto, who was tagged with the loss after giving up four earned runs on 10 hits in six innings.

Capping the one-hitter for Yakult, which became the last team to reach the win column in both leagues, was Lim Chang Yong who struck out one in a perfect ninth to pick up his first save.

“It was the team’s first win so I’m really happy about the job I did today,” said Masubuchi, who hails from a golden generation of pitchers including the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ Yuki Saito, the Yomiuri Giants’ Hirokazu Sawamura and Masahiro Tanaka of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

“I was much too tight in the first inning, but I settled down after that. From then on, I was able to focus on piling up the zeros on the scoreboard.

“I promise we’ll deliver a championship this season.”

In his first outing of the season, Masubuchi held the BayStars hitless for six innings before coughing up a single to Termell Sledge to start the seventh.

Yokohama, which lost its second game as the team was shut out for the first time this season, failed to capitalize on a rocky first inning by Masubuchi.

Masubuchi had trouble finding the zone early on, walking leadoff man Takehiro Ishikawa and sluggers Shuichi Murata and Brett Harper to load the bases.

But facing Hichori Morimoto with two outs, Masubuchi was bailed out by Ishikawa, who was caught in a rundown after straying too far from third base, thinking a pitch into the dirt had gotten past catcher Ryoji Aikawa.

Dragons 1, Tigers 0 (10)

At Nagoya Dome, reigning CL MVP Kazuhiro Wada’s RBI double in the bottom of the 10th gave the Dragons the win.

Carp 4, Giants 3

At Mazda Stadium, the Carp beat the Giants for a second straight day.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 8, Marines 4

At Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s heralded rookie Yuki Saito won his professional debut as the Fighters defeated the Japan Series champion Chiba Lotte Marines.

Saito allowed just one earned run on six hits in five innings for the victory. He gave up a two-run shot to former major leaguer Tadahito Iguchi in the first.

Hawks 10, Lions 8

At Yahoo Dome, Softbank third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda hit his first career walkoff shot.

Buffaloes 4, Eagles 1

At Koshien Stadium, Orix rode a four-run eighth to defeat Tohoku Rakuten.