NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Highly-touted teenage rookie Shintaro Fujinami allowed two hits over seven innings on Sunday for his second win of the season as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 5-0.
Fujinami, who pitched Osaka Toin High School to two tournament titles last year at Hyogo Prefecture’s storied Koshien Stadium, won his second game there as a pro. The 197-cm 19-year-old struck out four and walked one, while a pair of relievers completed a three-hit shutout as the Tigers won their fourth straight.
“My form wasn’t all that good today, but I made a game of it,” Fujinami said. “The relievers are so dependable and they shut our opponents down the rest of the way.”
Takahiro Arai, who lost his cleanup spot in the lineup in an injury-plagued 2012 season, put Hanshin in front with his first home run of the year, a solo shot in the fifth. He added RBI singles in the sixth and eighth innings.
“This guy is a big pitcher,” said the 189-cm Arai. “I mean, there aren’t many guys I have to tilt my head back to look up to. He’s very solid on the mound as well.”
Arai’s younger brother, Ryota, went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI single.
Second-year Tigers skipper Yutaka Wada downplayed Fujinami’s own assessment of his outing.
“When he said he didn’t pitch well, it was because he wasn’t getting strikeouts, but he was in perfect command,” Wada said. “He’s becoming a solid member of our rotation. Now I just want him to become the pitcher in other parks that he’s been here.”
Carp 5, Giants 4 (11)
At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima became the second team this season to beat Yomiuri as pinch hitter Ryuhei Matsuyama won it with an 11th-inning, bases-loaded infield single. The Carp erased a three-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning on RBI singles by Eishin Soyogi and pinch hitter Tomonori Maeda.
Giants and Japan captain Shinnosuke Abe became the second catcher in Nippon Professional Baseball with 300 career home runs when he belted a two-run shot in the seventh. The other two catchers with 300 career homers are Katsuya Nomura (657) and Koichi Tabuchi (474).
BayStars 4, Dragons 3 (12)
At Yokohama Stadium, Shuto Takajo singled home Takayuki Kajitani from second to drive in the winning run in the 12th inning as Yokohama completed a three-game sweep of Chunichi.
The Dragons overcame a three-run deficit to tie it in the eighth. Kajitani, whose two-out, two-run, pinch-hit double decided Saturday’s game in the eighth inning, reached safely on a leadoff infield single. He was sacrificed to second and scored on Takajo’s single down the left-field line.
Lions 11, Fighters 0
At Sapporo Dome, second-year Seibu right-hander Ken Togame (3-0) struck out 10, while throwing a five-hitter for his first career shutout as the front-running Lions bounced back after being shut out the day before by the Fighters.
The Lions opened fire in the third, scoring on Ryo Sakata’s RBI double and an RBI single by captain Takumi Kuriyama. Sakata had three hits, including a two-run homer, while Kuriyama drove in five runs, three on a two-out, bases-loaded double in the sixth.
Hawks 9, Buffaloes 1
At Kyocera Dome, Fukuoka Softbank right-hander Shota Takeda, who went 8-1 as a teenage rookie last year, threw four-hit ball over seven shutout innings to earn his first win of the season. Takeda (1-1) struck out five and walked five.
Former Chicago Cubs All-Star Bryan LaHair opened the scoring in the second with a solo shot off former St. Louis Cardinals farmhand Brandon Dickson (2-1). LaHair went 3-for-3 with two walks and a double. He drove in two runs. Japan third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda and Yuki Yanagita also plated two runs apiece for the Hawks.
Marines 9, Eagles 5
At QVC Marine Field, Chiba Lotte overturned a 4-1 Tohoku Rakuten lead in a five-run seventh. Takumi Kobe drove in the go-ahead run with a two-run, pinch-hit single.
The Golden Eagles jumped in front thanks to their big-league power supply. Casey McGehee, who hit 61 major league homers, drove in Andruw Jones in the second. Jones, with 434 big league dingers on his ledger, led off the top of the fourth with a homer and McGehee followed with his second of the game.