With the Hiroshima Carp reeling from back-to-back losses, Ken Takahashi picked a great time to remind everyone why he’s one of the top pitchers in the Central League.

Takahashi shut down the Yomiuri Giants and Hiroshima benefited from some timely hits in a 7-1 victory on Friday at Tokyo Dome in front of 38,172 fans.

“I was worried about giving up home runs but was able to get through the game without allowing any,” Takahashi said.

“I’m thankful for the run support I got tonight. The team hit well and made it easy for me.”

Takahashi (5-2) earned the win after striking out five over eight innings and allowing just a single run. He even came through with a crucial two-out single in the third that sparked a big inning.

“Takahashi was a complete player,” Carp manager Marty Brown said. “He pitched well, got a hit and ran the bases well.”

Takahashi lowered his CL-leading ERA to 1.53 and has allowed just three runs over his last six starts, going 5-1 in that span.

“The season is still young and we’re getting into the interleague season, so it’s difficult to know what will happen,” Takahashi said. “I just hope I can continue to pitch well.”

The Carp veteran didn’t allow a runner past second until Yoshitomo Tani advanced to third on a throwing error by second baseman Akihiro Higashide after a hit by Takuya Kimura in the seventh.

“Wow,” marveled Hiroshima first baseman Kenta Kurihara. “He’s just amazing.”

Higashide, right fielder Alex Ochoa and catcher Yoshikazu Kura provided most of the run support, each driving in a pair of runs with multihit performances at the plate. Higashide finished 2-for-5 to raise his average to .320.

“We swung the bats well,” Ochoa said. “Hopefully we can come here tomorrow and do it again.”

Giants starter Takahiko Nomaguchi retired the first eight batters he faced but never recovered after giving up four consecutive two-out hits during a three-run third. Nomaguchi (1-1) left after five innings and was charged with five runs in the loss.

Takahashi got things going for Hiroshima in the top of the third with a two-out single that was just beyond the reach of shortstop Hayato Sakamoto. Leadoff man Masato Akamatsu also singled to give the Carp runners at the corners.

Higashide followed with a bases-clearing double and Ochoa delivered an RBI single to put the Carp ahead 3-0.

The Hiroshima batters came through with two men on base again in the fourth, with Kura’s two-run double giving Brown’s team a 5-0 advantage.

Arai powers Tigers

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo Pref. (Kyodo) Takahiro Arai drove in four runs with a pair of extra-base hits to lead the Hanshin Tigers to their third straight victory with an 8-5 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Friday.

Arai ignited the offense for the Central League leaders with an RBI double in the first inning and added a bases-clearing triple in a four-run fourth after Takashi Toritani hit a two-run triple to increase the lead in the third at Koshien Stadium.

Dragons 7, BayStars 2

At Nagoya Dome, Kazuhiro Wada drove in the go-ahead run and Lee Byung Kyu hit a grand slam as Chunichi held off Yokohama.


Eagles 8, Lions 2

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Yosuke Takasu and Rick Short drove in six runs between them and Hisashi Iwakuma became the first six-game winner in Japanese baseball with seven solid innings, leading Tohoku Rakuten over Seibu.

Buffaloes 10, Marines 3

At Chiba Marine Stadium, Hirotoshi Kitagawa homered twice and drove in six runs as Orix routed Chiba Lotte for its third straight win.

Fighters 10, Hawks 3

At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Nippon Ham had six consecutive two-out hits in a four-run first and went on to beat Softbank with a season-high 16 hits.

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