NAGOYA – Daisuke Yamai held Japan’s best-hitting team to two hits over the distance as the Chunichi Dragons beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6-0 on Saturday afternoon.
Yamai, who once combined with reliever Hitoki Iwase for a perfect game in the Japan Series and threw a no-hitter last year, didn’t allow a hit through 6-2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out five, while walking three.
Yamai’s control was not the sharpest, but he managed to throw all his pitches for strikes. The Swallows, who entered the game with a Japan-best .289 team batting average, flailed at a lot of pitches out of the zone in the early innings. After they adjusted, Yamai stopped missing bats, but with all his pitches at his disposal, he was unpredictable and produced tentative swings.
Yakult’s first hit came in the seventh inning, when Yamai hung a 2-1 forkball up in the zone and Yuhei Takai lined it to left.
The Dragons were gifted the lead after Nagisa Arakaki issued a one-out walk to Anderson Hernandez in the second inning. With two outs, Hernandez went to second on a wild pitch and Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura compounded matters with a throwing error on the play that moved the runner to third. Arakaki completed the breakdown with another wild pitch that made it 1-0 Dragons.
A Hector Luna RBI single and a two-run double by Atsushi Fujii made it 4-0 in the second against Arakaki (0-2), who did not come out to pitch the fourth inning. His replacement, Ryohei Kiya, allowed two runs in the fourth with Luna tripling in one and Masahiko Morino plating the second with a sacrifice fly.
Carp 12, Giants 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, rookie right-hander Daichi Osera (7-6) allowed two runs in six innings to win for the first time since June 21, and Hiroshima broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning on back-to-back hits, an RBI double from Rainel Rosario and a run scoring single from Kila Ka’aihue in a win over league-leading Yomiuri.
BayStars 8, Tigers 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Takayuki Kajitani hit a first-inning, two-run home run and added an RBI triple in the third as Yokohama snapped a seven-game losing streak against Hanshin.
Buffaloes 7, Hawks 6
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Teppei Tsuchiya came off the bench and stole the spotlight with a tie-breaking, two-run double that lifted Orix past Fukuoka Softbank in a clash between the PL’s best.
Tsuchiya entered the game as a pinch runner, but his bat turned the game around. With two outs and two on in the eighth inning after the Hawks elected to walk PL batting leader Yoshio Itoi with first base open, Tsuchiya drove an 0-1 forkball into the gap in left for an opposite-field double to break a 5-5 tie against the PL leaders.
“Of course they were going to walk Itoi, so I expected them to come at me,” Tsuchiya said. “It was unusual for me to bat in that kind of situation, so I’m grateful for the opportunity. I was just ready to swing at any strike.”
Orix closer Yoshihisa Hirano walked a fine line in the ninth, allowing a run on three hits, but held on to earn his franchise record-tying 33rd save. The victory moved the Buffaloes to within two games of the Hawks in the two-way race for the PL pennant.
The visitors broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run fourth inning. Lee Dae-ho got things started by putting a good swing on a curveball away and drove it down the right-field line for an opposite-field double. Softbank loaded the bases through an error by first baseman Takahiro Okada and a hit batsman, and with two outs, Toru Hosokawa finished a superb at-bat by drilling a fastball to left for a two-run single. Kenji Akashi followed with a single to make it 4-1 Hawks.
But Nakata, who had been laboring, loaded the bases with no outs in the home half on two walks and a hit batsman, and a run came home on a ground out. The right-hander surrendered a leadoff homer to Itoi in the fifth and was pulled after two straight no-out singles.
Right-hander Akihiro Yanase got one out before surrendering a single to hot-hitting reserve Takayoshi Kawabata, whose single tied it.
Side-arm lefty Masahiko Morifuku took the mound for the Hawks in the sixth, but gave up a leadoff single to Keiichi Hirano. After a sacrifice, Itoi brought the runner home with this third hit of the game to give the Buffaloes their first lead.
Buffaloes right-hander Yuki Nishi kept his team in the game through six innings, but was pulled after surrendering a leadoff single in the seventh. A pair of relievers each gave up a hit, with the Hawks tying it on Yuki Yanagita’s two-out single off star middle reliever Tatsuya Sato (3-4), who earned the win.
Fighters 8, Lions 8 (12)
At Seibu Dome, rookie Tomoya Mori prevented Seibu from losing with a 10th-inning homer, his third in three games in a game against Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Marines 12, Eagles 5
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Chiba Lotte overcame a two-run deficit with a five-run fourth inning that was sparked by Luis Cruz’s solo homer as Hideaki Wakui (5-10) earned a win against Tohoku Rakuten despite allowing four runs in five innings.