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On a pitching staff that has been plagued by a string of bad games, Yomiuri Giants ace Hisanori Takahashi pitched eight shutout innings to lead the Giants to a 3-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp on Saturday night before a packed house at Tokyo Dome.

News photoSoftbank infielder Hiroki Kokubo successfully makes a sacrifice bunt with a runner on first and one out
in the fourth against the Fighters at Yahoo Dome on Saturday. Hokkaido Nippon Ham cruised past the Hawks
7-1.
KYODO PHOTO

Takahashi allowed only two runners past first base and picked up his 13th win of the season. Takahashi, who entered the game with the second-lowest ERA in the Central League (2.86), allowed four hits and struck out six.

His performance helped the Giants hold an opponent under four runs for the first time in five games.

“I took the mound tonight confident of winning, and knew if I pitched my game, there should be no problem,” Takahashi said.

“I look forward to winning a few more and helping the Giants to the championship.”

Koji Uehara closed out the game with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 29th save of the season.

Combined with the Chunichi Dragons’ 2-0 loss to the Hanshin Tigers earlier in the day, the Giants moved into second-place in the CL standings.

“I don’t really do too much scoreboard watching,” Giants center fielder Damon Hollins said. “As long as we keep doing what we just did, we’ll be all right.”

After the Giants rallied from five runs down in the ninth to pull out a gutsy 9-8 win in 12 innings on Friday, Michihiro “Guts” Ogasawara crushed the first pitch he saw from Hiroshima starter Michito Miyazaki (2-5) in the first to put the Giants out in front early.

Shinnosuke Abe followed Ogasawara’s 125-meter homer to right with a 110-meter shot of his own in the second to give the Giants a 2-0 lead.

“Our team mood is really great right now after last night’s come-from-behind win and today’s shutout,” Ogasawara said.

Ogasawara doubled to right in the sixth to collect his 1,500th career hit and added a RBI single in the eighth to cap a 3-for-4, two-RBI night.

“I’m happy I was able to get the 1,500th hit at Tokyo Dome,” Ogasawara said after the game.

The Giants backed Takahashi with a solid performance in the field. They turned two double plays and Hollins make a leaping grab at the center-field wall in the fourth to rob Takahiro Arai of an extra-base hit.

Takahashi showed some fielding ability of his own in the fifth by leaping off the mound to help turn an attempted sacrifice bunt into an inning-ending 1-6-4 double play.

The Giants and Carp meet in the finale of their three-game set Sunday night at Tokyo Dome before Yomiuri begins a crucial series against first-place Hanshin on Monday.

“Takahashi pitched his typical game tonight and Uehara was there to close with no problem,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “I think the key to tonight’s game was that we scored first and set the momentum for tomorrow and our three-game series against the Tigers at Koshien.”

Tigers blank Dragons

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Osamu Hamanaka hit a two-run homer and Yuya Ando and three relievers combined on a seven-hit shutout as the Hanshin Tigers maintained their Central League lead with a 2-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons on Saturday.

Hamanaka sent a full-count pitch from Takashi Ogasawara (6-5) into the left-field seats to break a scoreless tie in the sixth inning at Koshien Stadium. Ando (2-0) held second-place Chunichi to five hits and two walks in six innings.

Tomoyuki Kubota and Jeff Williams worked the seventh and eighth, respectively, before Kyuji Fujikawa earned his CL-leading 41st save with a perfect ninth.

It was Kubota’s 81st mound appearance of the year, breaking the previous Japanese baseball record for most games pitched in a season set by Fujikawa two years ago.

BayStars 5, Swallows 3

At Yokohama Stadium, Takahiro Saeki hit a three-run home run to back a strong outing by Hayato Terahara as Yokohama beat Tokyo Yakult for its first win in three games.

Saeki connected off Ryo Kawashima (3-1) to cap a four-run first inning. Terahara (10-11) reached double-digit wins for the first time in his career, limiting the Swallows to two runs — one earned — and five hits over eight innings.

Marc Kroon allowed a leadoff homer to Aaron Guiel, his 28th, in the ninth but finished for his 26th save.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 7, Hawks 1

At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Atsunori Inaba delivered a tiebreaking RBI single and rookie designated hitter Yohei Kaneko chipped in with a two-run homer as Hokkaido Nippon Ham routed Softbank.

Tied 1-1 with two out and a runner on second in the sixth, Inaba singled to right off Hawks starter Toshiya Sugiuchi (15-5) for the go-ahead run and Kaneko belted a shot over the left-field wall off the lefty in the seventh to extend the lead.

Buffaloes 5, Marines 1

At Kyocera Dome, Tom Davey limited the damage to one run in seven effective innings and Orix erupted for five runs to come from behind in the fifth en route to beating Chiba Lotte.

Takeshi Hidaka had a game-tying RBI single with one out in the big inning and Tomotaka Sakaguchi added a two-run triple as the first of three consecutive RBI hits with two outs in the decisive frame.

Eagles 8, Lions 4

At Goodwill Dome, Yasuhiro Ichiba threw six innings of three-run ball and back-to-back clutch singles by Daisuke Kusano and Rick Short in the fourth gave Tohoku Rakuten the lead for good as it downed Seibu to win its third game in a row.

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