HIROSHIMA – Tomoyuki Sugano worked 7-2/3 solid innings and the Yomiuri Giants broke out of a scoring slump in a 7-1 win over the Hiroshima Carp in a clash between the Central League’s top two clubs.
Sugano (11-5), who had been sidelined for most of August with inflammation in the middle finger of his throwing hand, allowed one run on five hits and a walk, while striking out eight. The second-year right-hander has won both of his starts since returning to duty on Sept. 10. The Giants’ win at Mazda Stadium left them leading the second-place Carp by five games and the third-place Hanshin Tigers by 7-1/2.
With the Giants trailing by a run in the sixth inning, Hisayoshi Chono reached on a leadoff double and scored on Hayato Sakamoto’s one-out double, snapping Yomiuri’s 23-inning scoreless streak. After a groundout moved Sakamoto to third, Leslie Anderson drew a walk off reliever Ren Nakata and stole second.
Shuichi Murata followed by lining a hanging slider that floated lazily up in the heart of the zone and drove in two more runs.
With two outs in the seventh, Chono drove a fastball away to right-field for an opposite-field homer, his 13th of the season, to make it a 4-1 game.
Sugano escaped a jam in the bottom of the seventh when an error and a one-out bouncer through the infield put two men on, but he struck out CL home run leader Brad Eldred on three nasty pitches and got a sharp grounder for the third out. Eldred’s strikeout was his 151st of the season and set a team record.
“It wasn’t like I was willing to give up one run. I wasn’t going to give up even one, so I was going for a strikeout there.
“Since I gave up the first run, I can’t say I pitched that well, but it’s a good thing that I could hang in there and we could win. My goal was to go as long as I could.”
Murata plated an insurance run in the top of the eighth, when he drove home Sakamoto again with another two-out single.
Sugano left with two outs and two on in the eighth, and lefty reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi got a sharp grounder to short to make an easy exit.
Shinnosuke Abe singled in two more runs in the ninth to complete the scoring.
Swallows 5, Tigers 3
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, last-place Tokyo Yakult overturned a one-run deficit against Hanshin in the sixth inning on a two-run homer by Yasushi Iihara, while Wladimir Balentien hit his 31st home run in the eighth.
Dragons 6, BayStars 0
At Yokohama Stadium, right-hander Yuta Muto (1-1) worked five innings, and three relievers completed a six-hit shutout as Chunichi beat Yokohama after losing its previous five games to the BayStars.
Hawks 5, Buffaloes 0
At Kyocera Dome, league-leading Fukuoka Softbank took the opener of its three-game series with second-place Orix behind Kenji Otonari’s first shutout in two years.
Otonari (3-0), who returned this season from back surgery, allowed four hits, a walk and a hit batsman, while striking out nine. Lee Dae-ho put the game on ice in the fifth inning with a three-run homer as the Buffaloes were shut out for the third time in four games.
Lions 6, Fighters 0
At Seibu Dome, Yusei Kikuchi (5-9) allowed six hits and a walk over five innings and four relievers completed a 10-hit shutout as Seibu beat Hokkaido Nippon Ham to win its third straight behind home runs from Shogo Akiyama and Hideto Asamura.
Eagles 6, Marines 4
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, teenage rookie Yuki Matsui (3-7) allowed three runs in six innings and Tohoku Rakuten came from behind against Chiba Lotte in a three-run fourth inning.
Eagles slugger Andruw Jones hit his 23rd home run, a two-run shot in the fifth.