KOBE – Yuki Saito continued to live up to the hype in the post-Yu Darvish era, throwing his first career shutout in the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ 5-0 victory over the Orix Buffaloes on Friday night.
Saito (3-1) scattered eight hits, all singles, walked two and struck out four in a 131-pitch outing at Hotto Motto Field.
“Honestly, I’m very happy,” said second-year pro Saito, who is the new headliner after the departure of Darvish to the Texas Rangers.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything but winning and I went out to grab the victory. It’s great when my teammates score for me. Today’s win gives me a lot of confidence.”
Sho Nakata opened the scoring with a run-scoring single in the sixth. Yang Dai-kang homered leading off a four-run seventh, which also featured Eiichi Koyano’s two-run single.
Evan MacLane (2-1) took the loss for the Buffaloes, who fell below .500.
The Fighters, who are 7-3 on the road, improved to 2-2 against Orix.
Lions 1, Marines 0
At Chiba’s OVC Marine Field, Kazuhisa Ishii came within one out of his first shutout since 2007 and Takeya Nakamura had an RBI double in the sixth inning, lifting Seibu over Chiba Lotte.
Ishii (1-0) allowed five hits and struck out six without a walk. He was pulled for Enrique Gonzalez, who got his second save, with runners at the corners and two out in the ninth.
Dragons 2, Carp 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Soma Yamauchi went seven scoreless innings, Motonobu Tanishige had a run-scoring single to break a scoreless deadlock in the seventh, and Chunichi won its third in a row to move into first place.
Yamauchi (2-1) yielded seven hits, struck out four and walked two and Hitoki Iwase picked up his seventh save.
Bryan Bullington (1-3) took the loss for the Carp, who saw their winning streak end at three games.
Swallows 2, Giants 1
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama had a tying RBI single in the second inning and Wladimir Balentien homered off Tetsya Utsumi (1-3) in the fourth, lifting Tokyo Yakult to a come-from-behind win over Yomiuri.
Kyohei Muranaka (2-0) limited the damage to one run in eight innings of work and Tony Barnette struck out three in the ninth for his sixth save.
BayStars 3, Tigers 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Norihiro Nakamura hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning among his three hits, and Hichori Morimoto added an RBI single for insurance in the eighth as Yokohama beat Hanshin for its first win at home this season.
The Tigers stranded 12 base runners and slipped out of first place.