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Sugano holds Eagles to three hits in stellar outing

Kyodo

Tomoyuki Sugano worked 7-1/3 scoreless innings to earn his eighth victory on Saturday as the Yomiuri Giants held on to beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 3-1 in an interleague rematch of last year’s Japan Series contestants.

Yoshiyuki Kamei’s ground RBI single broke a scoreless tie with two outs in the eighth inning and propelled the Giants to victory before a crowd of 23,445 at the Pacific League champions’ home park, Kobo Stadium Miyagi.

Rakuten sent Japan Series MVP Manabu Mima to the mound to face Sugano, who was 1-1 in last year’s Japanese Fall Classic. Sugano (8-2) allowed three hits and two walks, while striking out four. It was the fifth straight win for the Central League-leading Giants.

Kamei prevented the Eagles from taking the lead in the second. With Andruw Jones on second after getting Rakuten’s first hit, former Giant John Bowker singled to right, but Kamei threw a strike to home that nailed Jones easily to end the inning.

“I owe a lot to the fielders today,” Sugano said. “My balance was not all that good, but at the critical moments I was able to execute my pitches and get outs.”

Mima (1-6) allowed two runs on five hits. He walked three, hit a batter and struck out five, but his solid effort unraveled in the eighth.

Yasuyuki Kataoka led off with a double over the head of center fielder Ryo Hijirisawa, who misread the ball. With one out and Kataoka at third, the Eagles walked right-handed hitting Shuichi Murata in order to have a lefty pitch to left-handed-hitting Shinosuke Abe. But the Giants captain walked to load the bases.

Right-hander Hiroyuki Fukuyama struck out pinch hitter Yoshinobu Takahashi swinging on a good forkball. Kamei, however, went after Fukuyama’s first pitch and rolled a high-and-away fastball between first and second for a single. Two runs were going to score on the play, but right fielder Takero Okajima overran it and it rolled to the wall, allowing the runner from first to score as well.

The Eagles made the Giants sweat in the ninth, loading the bases with one out but only managing one run. Ryota Katsuki, Yomiuri’s third pitcher in the inning, earned his second save.

Buffaloes 7, Dragons 4

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Naotaka Takehara’s pinch-hit RBI double broke a 4-4 tie in the sixth inning as PL-leading Orix came from behind to defeat Chunichi, extending its winning streak to seven games.

Lions 3, Tigers 2

At Seibu Dome, Yusuke Kikuchi (3-6) allowed two runs in seven innings, Seibu cleanup hitter Takeya Nakamura’s sixth-inning RBI single broke a 2-2 tie and the Lions won four straight for the first time this season.

Hanshin ace Atsushi Nomi (5-5) gave up three runs in six innings to take the loss, but struck out 10 batters and set a CL record by striking out 10 or more in five straight games.

Hawks 4, BayStars 2

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Kenichi Nakata (7-3) allowed two unearned runs in 7-2/3 innings and Akira Nakamura broke the ice with a two-run, fourth-inning triple as Fukuoka Softbank beat Yokohama to go a season-high 14 games over .500.

Marines 8, Carp 4

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Daichi Suzuki broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth with an RBI triple as Chiba Lotte came from behind to win and hand Hiroshima its ninth straight loss.

The Carp’s losing streak is its longest in three years.

Fighters 7, Swallows 6

At Sapporo Dome, Keiji Obiki broke a 2-2 tie in the third with an RBI single and added a solo homer as Hokkaido Nippon Ham held off Tokyo Yakult.

For the Swallows, Akinori Iwamura went 4-for-4 with four doubles.