If you’re looking for the key to beating the Yomiuri Giants at home, the Hiroshima Carp are probably not the team to ask.
Hisayoshi Chono hit a grand slam, rookie pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano notched the first RBI of his career, and the Giants beat the Carp at home again, winning 6-2 in front of a crowd of 45,742 on Saturday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.
The Kyojin are 13-0-1 in their last 14 games against the Carp at the Big Egg. Not that anyone else has had much luck either. Yomiuri is 15-1-1 at home this season, with its lone setback an 8-1 drubbing at the hands of the Hanshin Tigers on April 18.
The Giants have won four straight overall and at 21-8-2 have the best record in Japan.
“Our team is playing well now,” Chono said. “I just hope we can keep it up.”
Yomiuri didn’t waste much time in jumping on Carp starter Shota Nakazaki. Sugano aided his own cause with a bases-loaded RBI single in the second inning, and Chono followed with his grand slam. Hayato Sakamoto doubled in another run later in the inning.
“With the bases loaded, I just tried to make contact and, luckily for me, the ball carried over the fence into our fans’ section,” said Chono, who finished 2-for-4.
All nine members of Yomiuri’s starting lineup finished with at least one hit. Tetsuya Matsumoto joined Chono as the only players with two hits.
Sugano (4-1) picked up the win despite a shaky seventh, during which he gave up a pair of runs and was pulled from the game with the bases loaded.
“He had a good fastball going for him today,” Carp outfielder Fred Lewis said of Sugano. “Sometimes he got himself in trouble, but overall, he had a good game.”
Sugano was charged with one earned run over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven, gave up five hits, walked four and hit a batter. He was also 1-for-3 with an RBI at the plate. Sugano is tied for the Central League lead in wins, and his 41 strikeouts are the most in the CL.
“Getting that hit on top of the pitching victory makes this a great and memorable day for me,” Sugano said.
The Kyojin are hoping to have another memorable day Sunday, when they hold a special ceremony for People’s Honor Award winners and former Giants stars Shigeo Nagashima and Hideki Matsui.
“I think we’ll be inspired by their presence, and we’ll win again,” Chono said.
Nakazaki (1-3) was tagged with the loss after allowing six runs on nine hits in four innings on the mound.
Hiroshima attempted to mount a rally in the top of the seventh. The first three batters of the inning reached base safely before Sugano struck out pinch hitter Tomohiro Abe. A passed ball during Lewis’ at-bat allowed a run to score, but the next batter, Ryosuke Kikuchi, went down swinging for the second out of the frame. Yoshihiro Maru was walked with the bases loaded to make the score 6-2 and end Sugano’s afternoon. Scott Mathieson came on and struck out Jun Hirose to end the threat.
The Giants and Carp will meet in the third game of their series on Sunday afternoon. Tetsuya Utsumi will be on the mound for the Giants, while Bryan Bullington is scheduled to start for the Carp. The game will take place following the ceremony for Nagashima and Matsui.
“It will be special,” Sugano said. “I won’t be pitching, but will enjoy it.”
BayStars throttle Dragons
Tony Blanco went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs, and Keijiro Matsumoto and Tatsuhiko Kinjo both hit a two-run homers as the Yokohama BayStars blasted the Chunichi Dragons 11-1 in Central League action on Saturday.
Shugo Fujii (3-0) scattered seven hits and allowed one unearned run in seven innings. Matsumoto capped a three-run third off Shinji Iwata (1-1) that made it 4-0.
Yokohama third baseman Norihiro Nakamura moved within two of his 2,000th career hit.
Tigers 7, Swallows 6
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin capitalized on a six-run opening frame featuring Matt Murton’s three-run homer and a Takeshi Hidaka two-run double, and Yamato Maeda had a decisive sixth-inning RBI double in a narrow win over Yakult.
Minoru Iwata (1-3) limited the damage to two runs on seven hits in six innings. Rookie Yasuhiro Ogawa (3-1) was tagged for six runs in four innings in suffering his first pro defeat for Yakult, which dropped its fourth in a row.
Marines 3, Hawks 1
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Yoshifumi Okada had a game-tying single and Katsuya Kakunaka added a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning as Chiba Lotte rallied past Fukuoka Softbank for its fourth straight win.
Yoshihisa Naruse (4-0) went the distance on one run and three hits while striking out eight. Shota Oba (0-1) took the loss for the Hawks, who saw their winning streak end at five.
Eagles 4, Buffaloes 1
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Kazuo Matsui homered and drove in all four runs in support of first-year right-hander Takahiro Norimoto, who yielded five hits in seven scoreless innings in Tohoku Rakuten’s win over Orix.
Matsui broke a scoreless tie with a two-run double in the fifth and went deep with a two-run shot off Orix starter Chihiro Kaneko (2-3) in the seventh. Orix lost four straight for the second time this year.
Lions 9, Fighters 7
At Tokorozawa’s Seibu Dome, Esteban German drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning off Hirotoshi Masui (0-1) and Ryo Sakata added insurance when he was hit with a pitch in the next at-bat, lifting Seibu past Hokkaido Nippon Ham to snap a three-game losing skid.
Dennis Sarfate (2-0) got one out in the eighth for the win and Tatsuya Oishi picked up his fifth save.