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Kosugi strong in first start of season as BayStars rally for win over Tigers

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo

Yota Kosugi kept batters off-balance over five innings of two-run ball, and Masaaki Koike drove in the tiebreaking run as the Yokohama DeNA BayStars rallied to defeat the Hanshin Tigers 4-3 on Saturday afternoon.

Making his first start of the season, Kosugi (1-0) scattered six hits while striking out four and walking two at Yokohama Stadium, helping lift the BayStars to their second straight win at home.

“I was really helped out by my teammates today,” said Kosugi, whose only other win came on Aug. 11, 2010, against the Chunichi Dragons. “I felt really focused. I feel fantastic that I could help lead the team to a victory.”

The Hanshin lineup strung things together in the fourth.

Craig Brazell had a leadoff single and scored all the way from first when Matt Murton followed with a double to deep left-center. Keiichi Hirano later hit an RBI single into right with runners at the corners for a 2-0 lead in the frame.

But DeNA struck right back in the bottom half when Alex Ramirez singled into right with runners on first and second, and both runners scored, one on a fielding error by right fielder Murton. Ramirez, who reached third on the play, scored the third run on Koike’s drive up the middle.

“I am very happy that I could contribute to the team’s win today,” said Ramirez, who has been struggling with no homers in the cleanup spot this season after his move from the Yomiuri Giants. “Anytime I can help this team beat the Hanshin Tigers two days in a row it’s great. They’re a tough team to beat.”

Yokohama created more opportunities in the fifth, Ikki Shimamura drawing a one-out walk and appearing to have scored on Sho Aranami’s single down the right field line, but Shimamura was called out by plate umpire Kazuki Kudo in a close call at home.

Yokohama first-year manager Kiyoshi Nakahata came out to argue the play to no avail.

Kazunari Tsuruoka hit a run-scoring double in the sixth to cushion the lead, 4-2.

“Being able to beat Hanshin two days in a row for us was huge. I am very happy,” said Nakahata. “When Rami-chan got that hit, he really did his job, and the guys after him followed through to put us in the driver’s seat. That changed the whole mood.”

Swallows 2, Giants 0

At Jingu Stadium, Katsuki Akagawa went the distance for the first time this season with his first career shutout.

Dragons 6, Carp 1

At Mazda Stadium, Takeshi Yamasaki hit a tiebreaking double in the third inning and Masahiro Araki went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and two RBIs as Chunichi won its fourth in a row by beating Hiroshima.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 8, Buffaloes 1

At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, Terrmel Sledge went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, and Masaru Takeda threw one-run ball over eight dominant innings.

Hawks 11, Eagles 1

At Kamoike Stadium in Kagoshima, Nobuhiro Matsuda hit a grand slam and drove in five runs and Seiichi Uchikawa went 5-for-5 as Fukuoka Softbank came from behind to wallop Tohoku Rakuten.

Marines 3, Lions 2

At QVC Marine Field, Saburo Omura hit a game-tying homer leading off the second inning and Katsuya Kakunaka delivered a two-out, two-run double off Ryoma Nogami (0-1) the same frame as Chiba Lotte beat Seibu.