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Sugano, Abe guide Giants past Swallows in series opener

Kyodo

Tomoyuki Sugano made quick work of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows to pick up his fifth win of the season, striking out six and allowing one run in eight innings as the Yomiuri Giants won 5-1 Tuesday.

The Giants needed just 2 hours, 16 minutes to complete the victory in the opener of a three-game homestand at Tokyo Dome, where Sugano (5-1) blazed through the Swallows lineup in 91 pitches.

The lone run Sugano gave up came in the seventh off Wladimir Balentien’s one-out solo shot, the Yakult slugger’s fifth round-tripper of the year. The Yomiuri right-hander allowed five other hits and a walk.

Sugano was roughed up last week by the Hanshin Tigers, who tagged him with four runs in eight innings. He had thrown three straight shutouts before that — the first Central League pitcher to do so in 28 years — and was determined to hop back on the winning track.

“I felt bad we lost when I pitched against Hanshin last week,” said Sugano, who is tied for the CL lead in wins. “I took the mound wanting to get us a win today any way I can.

“(The Swallows) walked off with a win on Sunday and probably came into the game feeling confident so I wanted to make sure I got off to a solid start.”

Shinnosuke Abe provided most of the Giants’ firepower, driving in four of the five runs with a two-run blast in the first and a two-RBI single in the fifth.

“(He) always helps me out,” Sugano said of Abe. “I’ve got Hanshin again next week at Koshien and I want to get them back, no matter what.”

Yakult righty David Buchanan (2-2) allowed all five runs — three earned — on five hits and a pair of walks over six innings to take the loss.

Sugano escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the eighth. He forced the out at home after scooping up Tetsuto Yamada’s slow roller down the first-base line, and got Yuhei Takai to ground out to third to end the inning.

Yomiuri skipper Yoshinobu Takahashi praised his ace.

“He found a way to wiggle out of some situations as aces do,” Takahashi said. “The game unfolded at a really good pace for us.”

Tigers 8, Dragons 1

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Takumi Akiyama (3-2) threw his first complete game in seven years, striking out 12 and holding last-place Chunichi to one.

Carp 10, BayStars 1

At Hiroshima Prefecture’s Onomichi Stadium, Hiroshima lit up Haruhiro Hamaguchi (2-3) for five runs in the fifth inning to win its third straight.

Yokohama lost its third in a row.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Buffaloes 3, Hawks 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix halted a six-game slide behind seven steady innings of two-run ball from Chihiro Kaneko (5-1) against Fukuoka SoftBank, which lost starter Kodai Senga after throwing just nine pitches.

With two outs in the first, Senga complained of discomfort in his back and was taken to hospital. Test results were not immediately known.

Lions 3, Marines 2

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Takeya Nakamura had two RBIs in Seibu’s three-run fifth as the Lions held on to win their fourth straight.

Chiba Lotte suffered its sixth successive defeat, a season worst.

Eagles 6, Fighters 4

At Akita Stadium, Zelous Wheeler homered for the second straight game, a three-run shot in the third that put Tohoku Rakuten in the driver’s seat against Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

The Fighters’ four-game winning streak ended.