NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. – Tomoyuki Sugano pitched one-run ball over seven innings in a match-up against lefty Minoru Iwata and the Yomiuri Giants rallied to beat the rival Hanshin Tigers 3-1 on Wednesday night.
The Central League-leading Giants beat the third-place Tigers for the second straight night and remained three games ahead of the second-place Hiroshima Carp. The Tigers dropped to 6½ games back after their fifth consecutive loss.
Sugano (10-5), who had just returned from inflammation in a tendon in his right middle finger, scattered seven hits, struck out four and walked two to earn his first win since July 16. The second-year righty notched double-digit wins for the second year in a row.
“I went through some tough times, and realized again how difficult it is to keep winning,” Sugano said. “I felt both the difficulty and joy of pitching on the mound tonight. This was only my second game (including an Eastern League appearance) since I got back, so I’m glad I was able to keep it to just one run.”
Hayato Sakamoto had a tiebreaking RBI single in the eighth inning off reliever Shinobu Fukuhara (2-5) and pinch hitter Kenji Yano’s sacrifice fly added insurance in the ninth in front of a crowd of 42,934 at Koshien Stadium.
Tigers captain Takashi Toritani opened the scoring with an RBI double in the first. Hirokazu Ibata hit a two-out, solo blast off Iwata that tied it 1-1 in the seventh.
Tetsuya Yamaguchi and Scott Mathieson pitched one scoreless inning each to slam the door, with Mathieson earning his 25th save. Hirokazu Sawamura will face off against left-hander Atsushi Nomi in the third game of the series on Thursday.
Carp 4, Dragons 3
At Mazda Stadium, Yusuke Nomura helped his own cause when he sparked a rally with an RBI single in a four-run fifth inning as Hiroshima held off Chunichi. Nomura (7-6) allowed three runs in 5⅔ innings and Kam Mickolio picked up his 22nd save.
BayStars 2, Swallows 0
At Yokohama Stadium, former BayStars closer Shun Yamaguchi threw a four-hitter in his first career shutout and Takayuki Kajitani hit a leadoff homer in the first inning for the second game in a row as Yokohama blanked Tokyo Yakult. Yamaguchi (7-3) struck out five and walked none over the distance. Yuliesky Gurriel added an RBI single in the sixth.
Buffaloes 6, Eagles 0
At Kobo Stadium Miyagi, Chihiro Kaneko (13-5) pitched his first shutout without issuing a walk in two years en route to earning his league-leading 13th win. The right-hander held his opponent to five hits and struck out six. Wily Mo Pena hit a two-run blast for his 30th home run in the eighth. Tohoku Rakuten snapped a four-game win streak.
Hawks 2, Fighters 1
At Tokyo Dome, Tadashi Settsu (10-6) yielded one run over six innings to post double-digit wins for the fourth year in a row and Lee Dae-ho delivered a seventh-inning, tiebreaking double as PL leader Fukuoka Softbank saw off Hokkaido Nippon Ham. Nobuhiro Matsuda’s one-out solo blast off Hiroshi Kisanuki (0-2) tied it up in the fourth.
Marines 4, Lions 3
At QVC Marine Field, Luis Cruz hit a tiebreaking, three-run home run in the sixth inning off Yosuke Okamoto (2-6) in support of rookie Ayumu Ishikawa (8-7), who held the damage to one run and six hits in seven innings in Chiba Lotte’s win over Seibu. Naoya Masuda earned his first save of the year. Seibu came up short in a two-run ninth.