Home runs by Hayato Sakamoto and Shinnosuke Abe lifted the Yomiuri Giants to a 3-1 win on Saturday over the Hiroshima Carp and earned ace Tetsuya Utsumi his first win in over two months.
Sakamoto’s eighth homer of the year tied it 1-1 in the sixth before 44,497 at Tokyo Dome, and Abe capped the three-run frame with his 10th homer, a two-run shot off Carp rookie Daichi Osera (6-5). The win pushed the Carp 4½ games back of the Central League-leading Giants.
Utsumi (2-6), who last won on May 29, scattered seven hits and two walks over six innings, while striking out four. Following his first win of the season, Utsumi had spent time with the farm team due to inflammation in his left shoulder.
“It was just long. I am so grateful (to be back),” Utsumi said. “I haven’t given up on reaching double digits in wins. I will win the rest (of my starts). I didn’t contribute during the first half, so I intend to win each of my remaining games.”
The southpaw was unable to work the seventh due to discomfort in the back of his left thigh.
“It’s unfortunate my leg cramped up and I had to leave the mound,” Utsumi said. “It wasn’t OK at the time, but it’s fine now.”
The visitors took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning, when Osera tripled off the wall in right and scored on a sacrifice fly by Shota Dobayashi. The right-hander retired the Giants in order in the bottom of the fifth, but struck out to end Hiroshima’s last real chance in the sixth with the bases loaded.
Sakamoto led off the home half of the sixth with a home run. With one out, a video review was needed to rule that an opposite-field drive to left center off the bat of Yoshiyuki Kamei had bounced off the top of the wall for a double.
No video was needed when Abe drove an outside pitch the other way for a homer to left center.
“Had I gotten a hit in the first inning, this game could have turned out much easier, and I didn’t forget that as I went back to the plate, and took out my frustration (at the plate),” Abe said. “If the cleanup hitter produces, then a lot of good things can happen. I want to hit more home runs and help us win more games.”
With Utsumi unavailable for the seventh, Giants manager Tatsunori Hara went to his bullpen. Kentaro Nishimura worked a scoreless sixth and right-hander Seiji Tahara got two outs before lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi finished the eighth. Scott Mathieson worked the ninth to earn his 18th save.
Osera surrendered three runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out seven.
Swallows 9, Dragons 0
At Jingu Stadium, Chris Narveson (3-7) allowed three hits and two walks over seven innings, two relievers completed a four-hit shutout, and Tetsuto Yamada and Yuhei Takai homered as Tokyo Yakult blanked Chunichi.
BayStars at Tigers — ppd.
Marines 7, Buffaloes 2
At Kyocera Dome, back-to-back RBI singles by Alfredo Despaigne and Luis Cruz plated three runs to break open the game in the eighth as Chiba Lotte spoiled the return to action of Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (9-4). The right-hander, who had been deactivated due to fatigue, lost despite allowing two runs in seven innings.
Hawks 8, Fighters 3 (12)
At Sapporo Dome, Yuki Yanagita singled and scored on Yuya Hasegawa’s tie-breaking 12th-inning double and Fukuoka Softbank scored four more runs to pound Hokkaido Nippon Ham after coming back from two runs down in the eighth inning.
Lions 4, Eagles 1
At Kobo Stadium Miyagi, Greg Reynolds (2-5) allowed an unearned run in 5⅔ innings to win his second straight start and Seibu got home runs from Yuji Kaneko and Takeya Nakamura in a win over Tohoku Rakuten.