Utsumi brilliant in Giants’ victory over Tigers


Staff Writer

It wasn’t always pretty, but a win is a win, and the Yomiuri Giants

will take it.

Tetsuya Utsumi threw eight scoreless innings and Michihiro Ogasawara ended a long homerless stretch in the Giants’ 2-0 victory over the Hanshin Tigers on Thursday at Tokyo Dome in front of a crowd of 43,163.

“He did everything we asked tonight,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said of Utsumi. “It was a great performance.”

Utsumi (11-2) struck out 10 and walked none on 128 pitches to continue his strong play this year.

“I thought I threw too many pitches tonight and I’m tired, but I can enjoy the victory,” Utsumi said.

Utsumi is the first Central League pitcher to reach 11 wins and lowered his league-leading ERA to 1.39. He hasn’t lost a start since dropping a game against Hanshin on June 25.

“I expect to keep winning,” Utsumi said.

Reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi retired the first two batters of the ninth, and Yuya Kubo recorded the final out for his fourth save of the season.

Ogasawara’s homer in the seventh was his second of the year and first in nearly two months.

“It’s been a long time since he hit a home run, but he picked a great time to hit one tonight,” Hara said.

The home run was Ogasawara’s first at Tokyo Dome this season. His only other homer came on the road against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks on June 8.

“It’s good I was able to hit one for the home fans,” Ogasawara said.

Neither team was able to muster much in the way of offense, with each club managing just four hits. Starter Minoru Iwata took the loss for the Tigers after allowing two runs on three hits. Iwata (5-9) struck out six but walked three — all in the sixth inning.

Giants third baseman Josh Fields led off the sixth with a hit to shallow center and Utsumi walked to put runners on first and second.

Hayato Sakamoto moved them over with a sacrifice bunt, but Takayuki Terauchi hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed Hanshin to pick off the lead runner.

Iwata walked Hisayoshi Chono to load the bases and issued a free pass to Alex Ramirez, which gave the Giants their first run.

Yomiuri padded its slim advantage on Ogasawara’s solo blast in the next inning.

“Ogasawara’s homer gave us an important insurance run and some breathing room,” Utsumi said. “I felt more confident pitching in the eighth inning.”