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Utsumi dominates as Giants beat Hawks

Kyodo

Tetsuya Utsumi pitched his first complete game of the season, Hayato Sakamoto went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, and the Yomiuri Giants walloped the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 11-3 in the two teams’ last interleague game on Sunday afternoon.

Utsumi (5-3) yielded three runs, two of them in the ninth, while allowing 10 hits. He struck out five and walked one. The lefty won his first decision since May 12 and the 100th of his career in his 10th year in pro baseball. Hiroki Yamada (3-3) was chased after yielding five runs in 1⅔ innings for Softbank.

“I took the mound today with the feeling I was on the edge of a cliff. I feel relieved,” said Utsumi, who felt the weight lifted off his shoulders after Yomiuri jumped out to a 6-1 lead through the first two innings. “I wanted to win badly today and I was really attacking the strike zone.”

“I never thought I would make it to 100 wins,” added Utsumi, who is bidding to lead the Central League in wins for the third straight season. “This is a passing point, and I want to do my best to win 100 more games.”

The Giants, led by three RBIs apiece from Yoshiyuki Kamei, Sakamoto and captain Shinnosuke Abe hitting second, third and cleanup, gave the Hawks a beating in their own backyard in a 16-hit onslaught at Yafuoku Dome. Softbank toppled into third place in the Pacific League heading back into league play next Friday.

“Utsumi might have a fastball of just 138 kph, but when he has his proper arm action he can really jam batters. That’s his bread and butter,” said Giants head pitching coach Kazuhisa Kawaguchi.

Eagles 3, Tigers 0

At Kleenex Stadium, Masahiro Tanaka threw his first shutout of the year en route to extending his club record to nine consecutive wins since the start of the season as Tohoku Rakuten beat highly touted Hanshin rookie Shintaro Fujinami (4-2).

Tanaka (9-0), whose 13 straight winning decisions dating back to Aug. 26, 2012, is also a team record, scattered six hits with a pair of walks, while striking out three. Kazuo Matsui and Ginji Akaminai had back-to-back RBI hits in the third and Kazuya Fujita had an RBI single in the fifth. Hanshin has lost three in a row.

Lions, 7, BayStars 1

At Seibu Dome, Hideto Asamura hit a tiebreaking two-run homer off Shugo Fujii (4-2) to key a six-run sixth in support of Takayuki Kishi, who limited the damage to one run on six hits in seven innings as Seibu routed Yokohama.

Kishi (3-5) struck out seven and walked two, while relievers Yusuke Kawasaki and Dennis Sarfate closed out the BayStars over the final frames.

Marines 9, Dragons 5

At QVC Marine Field, Toshiaki Imae had a game-tying, two-run double in the seventh inning, and Chiba Lotte piled on three more runs in the frame to take the lead for good in a seesaw contest against Chunichi.

Takahiro Fujioka (4-4) went 4⅔ scoreless innings for the win in relief. Koji Fukutani (0-1) was charged with the loss.

Buffaloes 10, Swallows 8

At Kyocera Dome, Orix overcame an 8-5 deficit in a seven-run uprising after rapping out seven hits in the sixth inning on the way to beating CL cellar dweller Tokyo Yakult.

Lee Dae Ho went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, and Toshiya Tsuji and Hikaru Ito drove in five runs between them in the 25-hit slugfest. Takashi Kamoshida (1-0) got one out to post his first career win in his 12th year of pro baseball. Tony Barnette (0-4) took the loss.

Fighters 3, Carp 2

At Sapporo Dome, Atsunori Inaba and Michel Abreu contributed with RBI singles in the third inning and Sho Tanaka went 3-for-4 with a run-scoring single in the seventh as Hokkaido Nippon Ham held off Hiroshima for its third straight win.

Masaru Takeda (4-4) threw one-run ball over six effective innings. Closer Hisashi Takeda surrendered a leadoff homer in the ninth to Tsubasa Aizawa, then loaded the bases with two outs, but got tough customer Jun Hirose to ground out to end it for his seventh save.