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Dragons’ Yamai tosses no-hitter against BayStars

The Chunichi right-hander accomplishes a pitcher's dream nearly six years after being pulled after 8 2/3 innings of no-hit ball in a Japan Series game

Kyodo

Daisuke Yamai, who was famously denied an opportunity to complete a perfect game in the 2007 Japan Series, threw the 88th no-hitter in the history of Nippon Professional Baseball on Friday as the Chunichi Dragons defeated the Yokohama BayStars 9-0 in Central League action.

Yamai (2-3) struck out three and walked four in the first no-hitter since Orix’s Yuki Nishi blanked the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks on Oct. 8, 2012. The no-hitter was the first by a Dragons pitcher since Sept. 16, 2006, when Masahiro Yamamoto defeated the Hanshin Tigers. He becomes the 77th pitcher to throw a no-no in NPB.

It was also the first complete game by a Dragons pitcher this season.

“I was thinking about the other day while talking with (pitching coach Shinji) Imanaka,” said the 35-year-old Yamai. “I was wondering who would be the first pitcher to get one.”

Chunichi sent 11 men to the plate in a seven-run first inning to take a commanding early lead at Yokohama Stadium.

Yamai had a rough seventh inning, when former Dragon Tony Blanco drove a pitch close to the warning track in left for the second, and first baseman Masahiko Morino made a superb stop at first base to end the inning.

“It wasn’t just me out there,” said Yamai, who was yanked in the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2007 Japan Series after retiring the first 24 batters he faced.

“I wasn’t really thinking about that game, but yes, it does feel good now.”

“About the eighth inning I was thinking about it. I was a little nervous when I went to the mound in the ninth.”

Yamai retired veteran Alex Ramirez on a hard-hit fly to left for the first out.

“Being Ramirez, I tried not to give him anything good to hit,” Yamai said. “After two outs, I was thinking, I am going to get this.”

“When I think that I gave up a three-run walk-off homer here in April, I think this has been a really good day.”

BayStars rookie right-hander Shoichi Ino (2-6) allowed eight runs in six innings to take the loss.

Tigers 7, Carp 4

At Koshien Stadium, held hitless for six innings by unheralded right-hander Hisashi Takeuchi, Hanshin turned the tables on Hiroshima with a six-run eighth inning.

Matt Murton singled in the Tigers’ first run in the seventh, and gave them the lead with his two-run single in the eighth. Two batters later, Ryota Imanari put the game on ice with a two-run triple.

PACIFIC LEAGUE


Buffaloes 3, Eagles 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Shinji Takahashi’s two-out, two-run, pinch-hit double in the ninth inning off rookie Tohoku Rakuten starter Takahiro Norimoto (6-5) lifted Orix to a sayonara victory.

Italy international Alessandro Maestri allowed back-to-back homers in the fifth to Hiroaki Shimauchi and Kazuo Matsui, but left after seven innings with the Buffaloes trailing only 2-1.

Fighters 2, Lions 1

At Sapporo Dome, Mitsuo Yoshikawa (6-5), last season’s PL MVP, held Seibu hitless for 5 1/3 innings as Hokkaido Nippon Ham edged Seibu.

The lefty allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings to outduel Lions lefty Yusei Kikuchi (8-3).

Michel Abreu singled in a run in the first inning, snapping Kikuchi’s streak of consecutive scoreless innings at 16. Fighters catcher Shota Ono doubled in another run in the second and the hosts held on for their fourth straight win.

Hawks 10, Marines 5

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Fukuoka Softbank sent 12 batters to the plate in a six-run, sixth inning and ace Tadashi Settsu (8-3) survived a five-run second inning to earn a complete-game victory over league-leading Chiba Lotte.

Yuichi Honda started the Hawks’ fightback in the fifth inning with a three-run homer off Marines ace Yoshihisa Naruse.

Softbank walloped his replacement, Yoshihiro Ito (1-1) for four runs in one-third of an inning in the sixth.