The Yomiuri Giants found themselves without their starting pitcher in the early stages of an important game. In the end it didn’t matter. The Kyojin just beat up on the opposing starter to make up for it.

Hisayoshi Chono drove in two runs with a triple, Shinnosuke Abe hit a three-run homer, and Yomiuri made short work of the best the Pacific League had to offer in an 8-0 win over the Orix Buffaloes on Tuesday night in front of a crowd of 45,745 at Tokyo Dome.

The Giants have now won seven straight.

“We’ve been putting it together recently and we’ll try to make it eight tomorrow,” Chono said.

The game was a matchup of the top two teams in the interleague standings. The Giants moved a step closer to winning the midseason title, while the second-place Buffaloes fell two games off the pace. The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, whose game against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Kagoshima was rained out, are another half-game back.

Chono made the most of his “Player’s Day,” finishing 2-for-4 with two RBIs, which was good enough to make him one of the game’s heroes alongside relief pitcher Shoki Kasahara.

“It’s the best feeling to be the hero on your own player’s day,” Chono said.

Seven of Yomiuri’s nine starters finished the game with at least two hits. Hayato Sakamoto and Shuichi Murata each had three. The team combined for 16 hits overall, among them Abe’s homer, Chono’s triple, and two doubles from Yoshiyuki Kamei.

Four players drove in all of the Giants’ runs. Abe finished the game with three RBIs, Chono had a pair, and Jose Lopez, Murata and Sakamoto drove in one each.

Kasahara (1-0) earned the win in relief after striking out three without walking a batter in 2 2/3 scoreless innings.

“I came in with the idea to take it one batter at a time,” Kasahara said.

Toshiya Sugiuchi got the start for Yomiuri, but was ejected for a dangerous pitch after hitting Orix second baseman Keiichi Hirano in the head with a 137-kph fastball. Hirano remained on the ground for a few moments but was able to walk to the bench to receive treatment and remained in the game.

Orix only managed four hits all night, two off the bat of Ryoichi Adachi. Wily Mo Pena had a double and Shunta Goto had the Buffaloes’ other hit.

“Tomorrow is the final game against the Giants,” Orix manager Hiroshi Moriwaki said. “Hopefully we can come out and play our game.”

Orix couldn’t do that on Tuesday in part because of the way the Giants jumped all over starting pitcher Yuki Nishi.

Nishi (9-3) had allowed 13 runs — 10 earned — in his first 11 starts of the year, but gave up six in just four-plus innings against Yomiuri. He struck out four and walked none. Nishi allowed more than two runs in a game for the first time this season and also failed to throw at least six innings for the first time all year.

“Nishi is a good pitcher and having a great year,” Chono said. “I’m glad he was not at his best tonight.”

The Kyojin had their way with one of the top pitchers in NPB this year, but will face one who might be even better on Wednesday. Orix will send ace Chihiro Kaneko to the mound for the final interleague game between the two clubs. Kaneko no-hit the Giants for nine innings the last time he faced them, on May 31 at Kyocera Dome. Yomiuri still managed to win that game 1-0 after scoring against the Orix bullpen in the top of the 12th.

“Kaneko no-hit us for nine innings in Osaka,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said. “We know we will face another tough game against him tomorrow night.”

Kan Otake is scheduled to take the mound for Yomiuri.

Lions 5, Dragons 0
Tigers 4, Fighters 3 (12)
Marines 6, BayStars 4
Hawks at Swallows — ppd.

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