NAGOYA – Randy Messenger threw eight scoreless innings and Oh Seung-hwan saved his 22nd game as the Hanshin Tigers defeated Chunichi Dragons 2-0 to wrap up the first half of the season heading into the All-Star break on Wednesday night.
Messenger (8-7) scattered three hits, all singles, struck out 13 and walked two batters. He made the Dragons miss swinging 11 times, taking full advantage of a devastating breaking ball. The second-place Tigers took the rubber in the three-game set to enter Friday’s All-Star series on a high note.
“I mixed it up with my curveball and forkball to keep them off-balance,” Messenger said. “(Rookie catcher Ryutaro) Umeno and I were on a good pace. Anytime you can win and have the team score for you, you want to give it your best and not give up the lead. We want to keep it up and see if we can get a championship out of it.”
Dragons starter Kazuki Yoshimi (0-1), making his second start since returning from a right-elbow surgery after a year absence last week, took a hard loss after allowing just two runs and six hits over seven innings. He struck out two and walked one.
Hiroki Uemoto had an RBI single to open the scoring in the sixth and Yamato Maeda contributed with a run-scoring groundout.
“Messenger was really giving it his best so I was glad to drive in the opening run,” Uemoto said.
Giants 5, Swallows 2
At Tokyo Dome, Shuichi Murata had a pair of RBI singles among his three hits in support of Tomoyuki Sugano (9-4), who limited the damage to an eighth-inning solo homer to Tetsuto Yamada and matched the league high for wins as CL Leader Yomiuri routed Tokyo Yakult. Scott Mathieson picked up his 15th save.
Carp 11, BayStars 7
At Mazda Stadium, Brad Eldred and Tsubasa Aizawa drove in five runs between them and Hiroshima banged out a season-high 17 hits to beat Yokohama. Third-year lefty Takaya Toda (1-1) had a shutout over the first four inning but yielded four runs in the fifth before getting his first career win. Yokohama saw its winning streak end at five games.
Marines 13, Hawks 0
At QVC Marine Field, left-hander Takuya Furuya (6-2) pitched a four-hitter in his first shutout of the season, Chiba Lotte sent 14 batters to the plate in a nine-run third against Kazuyuki Hoashi (6-1), and the Marines pulverized Fukuoka Softbank in a 16-hit onslaught. The Hawks, who are winless in their last four games, slipped into second place.
Buffaloes 8, Eagles 1
At Kyocera Dome, Chihiro Kaneko (9-3) gave up one unearned run over seven innings en route to winning his seventh consecutive decision, Yoshio Itoi hit a two-run homer, and Orix romped past last-place Tohoku Rakuten to finish the first half leading the PL for the first time in 17 seasons. Takahiro Norimoto (9-5) was roughed up for the third start in a row. The Eagles snapped a three-game winning streak.
Fighters 3, Lions 1
Asahikawa Starffin Stadium, Shohei Otani (9-1) walked four batters but surrendered just three hits over five scoreless innings on the way to his seventh straight victory, and Yuya Taniguchi delivered a two-run triple in the fourth as Hokkaido Nippon Ham saw off Seibu. Yosuke Okamoto (0-3) was tagged for the loss.