Hideki Irabu went the distance Thursday as the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers edged the Yokohama BayStars 2-1 at Koshien Stadium.
Irabu, formerly of the New York Yankees, improved to 6-1 after holding the BayStars to one run on five hits while striking out 13. It was Irabu’s second complete-game victory of the season.
With the victory, the Tigers won their fourth straight and took an eight-game lead over the idle Yomiuri Giants in the standings.
“It was a tight game,” said Irabu. “I just tried to take it one batter at a time and everything worked out.”
Akihiro Yano drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth with a bloop single to right.
Makoto Imaoka greeted Yokohama starter Domingo Guzman with a solo homer to left on the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning.
Yokohama catcher Takeshi Nakamura tied the game in the top of the third with a solo homer but Irabu held the BayStars scoreless the rest of the way.
Tatsuhiko Kinjo led off the game with a single up the middle but was picked off by Irabu.
Irabu, who was released by the Texas Rangers after the 2002 season, has been a pleasant surprise for the Tigers this season but refused to take credit for the team’s early success.
“We’re playing well as a team,” said Irabu. “Even if we’re down a few runs we refuse to give up.”
Swallows 6, Carp 5
At Jingu Stadium, Katsuyuki Dobashi drove in the winning run with a double in the bottom of the seventh as Yakult edged Hiroshima.
Koichi Ogata hit a game-tying two-run homer in the top of the seventh and also hit a two-run shot in the fifth.
Yakult reliever Tatsuki Yamamoto picked up the win after coming on in the seventh and recording the two outs. Shingo Takatsu retired the side in the ninth for his 13th save.
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