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Carp hurler Heath collects first victory in Japan

Kyodo

Deunte Heath threw 6-1/3 scoreless innings and Eishin Soyogi drove in two runs with a fourth-inning single as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Chunichi Dragons 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Heath (1-0), making his second start since joining the Carp from the Chicago White Sox in July, has allowed just one run over 12-1/3 innings in Japan. Relying primarily on his live fastball, Heath worked aggressively, allowing three hits and four walks while striking out four before 32,791 at Nagoya Dome.

“I was just trying to hit my spots and keep the ball down and work ahead,” said Heath, who turned 29 two days earlier. “I feel great. The team helped me out a lot here.

“I think it (my control) was OK today. I just trusted in my defense and whatever I had, I just threw it with conviction.”

The 193-cm right-hander was pulled in the seventh inning after a leadoff walk and a sacrifice put a runner in scoring position for left-handed pinch hitter Masahiko Morino. Left-handed rookie Takaya Toda, however, got out of the inning by retiring Morino and hot-hitting leadoff man Atsushi Fujii, who hit two homers the night before.

Hiroshima’s win lifted the Carp into second place in the Central league, 2-1/2 games behind the Yomiuri Giants and a half-game ahead of the Hanshin Tigers, who dropped into third.

Shota Nakazaki retired the Dragons in order in the eighth and Kam Mickolio closed it out in the ninth to earn his 20th save.

Chunichi starter Daisuke Yamai (9-4) nibbled incessantly from the get-go and found himself behind in counts. Despite that, he held Hiroshima hitless until the fourth inning, when his inability to get ahead cost him.

A series of good at-bats, starting with No. 2 hitter Ryosuke Kikuchi, led to two Carp runs. With the exception of struggling cleanup hitter Brad Eldred, Hiroshima’s hitters stayed off pitches out of the zone and hammered most of the strikes Yamai threw.

Kikuchi drilled a first-pitch slider up in the zone for a leadoff double and Yoshihiro Maru had a single to put runners on the corners. After Eldred struck out on three pitches, Ryuhei Matsuyama walked on four and Soyogi lined a 1-0 fastball for a two-run single.

Yamai was fortunate not to allow any more after surrendering two more hard-hit balls to rookie Kosuke Tanaka and veteran catcher Yoshiyuki Ishihara.

Tanaka lined a single to left to load the bases, and Ishihara sent another liner back through the box, but Yamai’s reflexes were quicker this time. He knocked the ball down and got a force at the plate before striking out Heath to end the inning. Yamai worked seven innings, allowing two runs on four walks and four hits with five strikeouts.

BayStars 5, Giants 4 (10)

At Yokohama Stadium, rookie Masayuki Kuwahara singled in the game-winning run in the 10th inning in a game that saw Yomiuri overcome a three-run deficit to take the lead only for Yokohama to tie it in the eighth on Yulieski Gurriel’s eighth home run.

Swallows 4, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Brazil’s World Baseball Classic captain Yuichi Matsumoto singled in two runs in the fourth to bring Tokyo Yakult from a run down, and right-hander Taichi Ishiyama (3-5) worked seven innings to earn the win over Hanshin.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 4, Marines 3

At Tokyo Dome, 2012 PL MVP Mitsuo Yoshikawa (2-4) allowed three runs in 7-1/3 innings and Hokkaido Nippon Ham scored a run in each of the first four innings in a win over Chiba Lotte.

Hirotoshi Masui worked the ninth to earn his 20th save.

Eagles 9, Hawks 4

At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, moments after Kenta Imamiya’s second RBI single put Fukuoka Softbank in front, Kazuo Matsui tied the game with a one-out RBI double, driving in the first run of an eight-run seventh inning for Tohoku Rakuten.

Buffaloes 15, Lions 1

At Seibu Dome, Brandon Dickson (8-10) allowed a run over the distance and was backed by an Orix season-high 20 hits as the Buffaloes crushed Seibu and moved to within 1-1/2 games of league-leading Softbank.