/

Sato ends epic winless drought against Giants

by

Staff Writer

Haunted to some extent by a poor showing in his last outing, Yoshinori Sato took the mound determined to set things right.

Mission accomplished.

Sato put together one of the best games of his last several injury-plagued seasons, Yuhei Takai powered the offense, and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows routed the Yomiuri Giants 7-0 in the second game of their Tokyo Series on Wednesday night at Tokyo Dome.

“Because my pitching was disappointing in my last appearance, I wanted to make up for it the next time I was given a chance,” Sato said.

Sato lasted just 3 1/3 innings (and allowed three runs) in his last appearance, on May 5 against the Yokohama BayStars. On Wednesday, he threw seven shutout frames, his longest outing since the last time he beat the Giants, 2,083 days ago on Sept. 3, 2011.

“He was really good,” Swallows manager Mitsuru Manaka said. “This time he was able to throw his pitches and get good results.”

Sato allowed just four baserunners on two hits and a pair of walks. The walks were issued back-to-back to Hayato Sakamoto and Shinnosuke Abe in the fourth inning, with the Swallows ahead 2-0. That brought the dangerous Casey McGehee to the plate with two outs, but Sato escaped by getting the slugger to fly out to center.

“I just tried to focus on holding the next batter down whenever there was a runner on base,” Sato said.

Sato earned his first win of the season to improve to 1-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.61. He struck out five.

“Because the fielders were able to get runs early, it made it easier for me to pitch aggressively,” he said.

He got plenty of support, as the Swallows banged out seven runs on 14 hits.

Takai led the onslaught, with four hits and a pair of RBIs. Four Swallows had two-hit nights, including Tetsuto Yamada, who also drove in two runs and stole a base. Shoitsu Omatsu drove in a pair of runs with a double and Shinichi Takeuchi was credited with an RBI after drawing a walk with the bases loaded.

Giants starter Kan Otake allowed four runs on 10 hits in a five-inning outing. Otake (4-2) struck out two and walked one.

Yamada drove in the first run of the game with a first-inning RBI single, then scored himself on a double to center by Takai.

“I was able to hit it well,” Yamada said of his hit.

Omatsu, in his first year with the club after coming over from the Chiba Lotte Marines, added to the lead with a two-run double to center in the fifth.

Yamada plated another run with an RBI single in the sixth and Takai followed with his own run-scoring single. Takeuchi drew his bases-loaded walk later in the inning, making the score 7-0.

The clubs split the first two games of their crosstown series at the Big Egg. Swallows veteran pitcher Masanori Ishikawa will get the call for the Birds in the rubber match, with Ryosuke Miyaguni set to start for the Kyojin.

Tigers hold off Dragons

Nishinomiya Hyogo Pref. KYODO

The last-place Chunichi Dragons wasted a strong start from Raul Valdes (1-2), who held the first-place Hanshin Tigers to two runs on three hits — including a fifth-inning solo shot to Fumihito Haraguchi — and a pair of walks in eight innings in a 2-1 victory on Wednesday in the Central League.

BayStars 5, Carp 4 (10)

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Jose Lopez broke a 4-4 tie in the 10th with a one-out, bases-loaded sac fly to put Yokohama ahead for good against Hiroshima.

The Carp led 4-1 lead going into the top of the ninth.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Eagles 15, Fighters 6

At Morioka Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten’s Takahiro Norimoto (5-1) struck out 12, but allowed five runs on five hits and four walks in a rollercoaster seven-inning outing to beat Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Lions 8, Marines 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Seibu stretched its winning streak to a season-high five games as the Lions pounded out 17 hits against Chiba Lotte.

The Marines have lost seven in a row for the first time in two years.

Hawks 6, Buffaloes 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yuki Yanagita set the tone for Fukuoka SoftBank with a first-inning solo shot and drove in two more runs in the sixth as the Hawks defeated Orix.