Daisuke Yamai allowed a run in seven innings for the Chunichi Dragons on Saturday afternoon in a 4-1 win over the Central League-leading Yomiuri Giants.
The Dragons moved to within 4-1/2 games of the Giants behind Yamai (8-2), who set a career high for wins in a season. Chunichi is now one game behind third-place Hiroshima.
Yamai held the Giants to five hits and a walk, while striking out seven. With the Dragons having deactivated Japan’s all-time saves leader Hitoki Iwase earlier in the day, the 36-year-old right-hander wanted to go deep into the game at Tokyo Dome.
“Because we’re without Iwase, I wanted to go as many innings as I could and I was aiming for a complete game or a shutout,” Yamai said. “With that in mind, I was intent on doing whatever I possibly could out there today.”
With lefty Iwase out of the picture, Dragons skipper Motonobu Tanishige turned to a pair of rookies out of the bullpen. Katsuki Matayoshi, the Dragons’ second draft pick last year, worked a 1-2-3 eighth, while Koji Fukutani, who leads the CL with 28 holds, threw a scoreless ninth to notch his second save.
“He (Yamai) was a little shaky at the start, but once we got a run, he was able to ride that momentum and fix some issues,” said Tanishige, who started at catcher for Chunichi. “He was in such great form at the start of the season, and then went into a funk. Perhaps this one win will help him stay loose.”
The skipper broke the ice with a second-inning sacrifice fly off struggling Giants ace Tetsuya Utsumi (2-7). The Yomiuri southpaw allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk over six innings.
The Dragons widened their lead in the sixth on a two-run home run by Ryosuke Hirata, while 20-year-old Shuhei Takahashi hit a pinch-hit homer in the ninth.
The Giants’ only run came on a seventh-inning RBI double by catcher Seiji Kobayashi.
Tigers 5, Carp 4
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, southpaw Atsushi Nomi (6-10) allowed a run over seven innings to earn his first win since May 24 as Hanshin hitters scored four runs in four innings off Hiroshima rookie Daichi Osera (6-6) to move to within a half game of first place.
BayStars 5, Swallows 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo homered and drove in four runs to spoil former Hawks star Nagisa Arakaki’s debut with Tokyo Yakult, while Enyelbert Soto worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to save it for Yokohama.
The last-place Swallows reached double digits in hits for the 10th straight game, extending their franchise record.
Hawks 4, Fighters 3 (10)
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, league-leading Fukuoka Softbank manufactured a 10th-inning run to win its seventh straight game after Hokkaido Nippon Ham tied it with a three-run ninth.
Speedster Akira Nakamura reached on a leadoff single, went to third on an errant pickoff throw, was sacrificed to third and scored on Masayoshi Tsukada’s pinch-hit sacrifice fly.
Lions 16, Marines 5
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Ernesto Mejia hit a three-run fourth-inning jack, his 20th home run of the season to spark Seibu, which scored nine times in the ninth and had 21 hits to turn out the lights on Chiba Lotte.
Buffaloes at Eagles — ppd.