Utsumi carries Giants to seventh consecutive win


Tetsuya Utsumi allowed two runs in eight innings to pitch the Yomiuri Giants to their seventh straight interleague victory on Friday.

Utsumi (4-4) allowed five hits but no walks, while striking out five in a 4-2 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines at QVC Marine Field.

The Giants are now 10-0 with three ties since their last loss on May 5. Yomiuri has won 10 straight decisions for the first time in three years.

“I worked very carefully from the start, and it went according to plan, with the guys scoring some early runs,” said the southpaw.

The visitors took the lead in the second after Shuichi Murata led off with a double against submarine right-hander Shunsuke Watanabe (2-2). With two outs, Murata scored on a single by Yoshitomo Tani, who had two RBIs.

A leadoff single by John Bowker and RBI doubles by Hisayoshi Chono and Hayato Sakamoto made it 3-0 in the fifth.

With two outs in the bottom of the eighth, the Marines’ Masahiko Tanaka doubled home two runs to make it close.

Utsumi called the runs “a waste,” but was pleased as punch to help keep the streak alive.

“There’s an incredible atmosphere right now,” he said. “We’re playing great ball now, and we want to keep operating at this peak level for as long as we can.”

Lions 10, Swallows 0

At Seibu Dome, Seibu’s Kazuhisa Ishii (4-1) threw his first shutout in five years with a five-hitter against his former club, snapping the Lions’ four-game losing streak.

Tokyo Yakult, which has now lost six games in a row for the first time in two seasons, never got a runner as far as second base against its former ace, while Seibu racked up season highs in runs and hits (14).

Tigers 5, Hawks 0

At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Jason Standridge (4-3) allowed three hits and a walk over seven innings against his first club in Japan and two Hanshin relievers completed the three-hit shutout of Japan Series champion Fukuoka Softbank.

Matt Murton had three hits for the Tigers, who won their second straight. His RBI single opened the scoring in the fourth and his first homer of the season made it 2-0 in the seventh.

Buffaloes 4, Carp 3 (10)

Dragons 5, Fighters 5 (10)

BayStars at Eagles — ppd.

Kokubo deactivated


Hiroki Kokubo’s pursuit of his 2,000th-career hit was put on hold on Friday, when the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks deactivated their 40-year-old captain with a herniated disc.

Kokubo, who needs just one hit to reach the milestone, suffered back pain against the Hiroshima Carp on Wednesday, when he was 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts.

“I anguished over the decision, but even if I play, the fact is that I probably won’t be able to produce,” said Kokubo, who underwent an MRI earlier in the day. “I’ve never had a herniated disc before, so I don’t understand it. Even speaking is painful.”

Kokubo had two hits on Tuesday, and with his goal in sight, the Hawks drew a home crowd of 36,658, their best-attended midweek game this season.

“Although I am only one hit away, being fit on the field is part of a professional’s duty,” he said.