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Kinjo blast lifts Giants to win over BayStars

by Dave Hueston

Kyodo

Tatsuhiko Kinjo hit a three-run homer against his former club as the Yomiuri Giants defeated the Yokohama BayStars 3-0 on a breezy night in Yokohama on Wednesday.

Lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi had settled down in a heated pitching duel against Guillermo Moscoso with neither man showing any signs of buckling, but it was Sugiuchi who won the battle of attrition when his counterpart tired in the seventh inning.

In the seventh, Hisayoshi Chono had a one-out infield single and after Moscoso fanned Shuichi Murata for his eighth strikeout, pinch hitter Frederich Cepeda drew a walk to set the stage for Kinjo.

The outfielder, who spent his first 16 years with Yokohama before moving to Yomiuri this season, hit a 2-1 changeup over the right-field wall for a 3-0 lead in front of a crowd of 23,194 at Yokohama Stadium.

“I was looking for a pitch right over the plate. My timing was a little off on the first pitch,” said Kinjo. “Moscoso is a good pitcher, so you just hope he makes a mistake you can take advantage of. I am just happy that the team pulled together and I could play a role tonight.”

Asked about cheers directed at him from the Yokohama faithful, Kinjo said, “I didn’t really notice that. I was just focused on the game tonight. But of course I appreciate it.”

Yokohama threatened in the first when Masayuki Kuwahara reached on a one-out infield single, but he was picked off by Sugiuchi for the second out and Takayuki Kajitani struck out to end the inning.

Similarly, the Giants got men aboard at first and second with two outs in the third, but Moscoso fanned Yoshiyuki Kamei on a changeup in the dirt to escape the jam.

Moscoso had the same situation in the sixth, and this time got Shinnosuke Abe to ground out to shortstop to put up another zero.

Not to be outdone, Sugiuchi dug himself into a second-and-third hole after a sixth-inning leadoff double to Takehiro Ishikawa. After issuing a walk and getting a groundout, he struck out Jose Lopez looking at a full-count fastball for the third out.

Sugiuchi (1-0) went six scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and three walks. Moscoso (2-1) yielded three runs and five hits with eight strikeouts and four walks in seven innings of the loss. Hirokazu Sawamura worked the ninth for his third save of the season.

Yomiuri bench coach Masahiro Kawai is expected to lead the team over the coming days after Giants manager Tatsunori Hara was diagnosed with the flu earlier on Wednesday. Kawai himself, incidentally, just returned to the club after a bout with the flu.

“Ideally you want your starter to pitch at least six quality innings. Sugiuchi did that tonight,” said Kawai. “It would have been better if we could have scored a fourth run in that inning to put more pressure on them,” he said.

Swallows 1, Carp 0

At Matsuyama Botchan Stadium, Yuhei Takai had a run-scoring single in the opening frame in support of Taichi Ishiyama (1-1), who tossed seven shutout innings while striking out eight in Tokyo Yakult’s win over Carp ace Kenta Maeda (1-1) and Hiroshima.

Dragons 2, Tigers 1

At Nagoya Dome, Ryosuke Hirata hit a ninth-inning walk-off RBI double to lift Chunichi over Hanshin for its third win in a row.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 8, Marines 2

At Sapporo Dome, Sho Nakata hit a pair of homers and drove in five runs on a 2-for-4 night and Shohei Otani hit two-run double in Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s mauling of Chiba Lotte. Lefty Mitsuo Yoshikawa (3-0) threw seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball for the win.

Lions 14, Eagles 2

At Seibu Prince Dome, Seibu rallied in a six-run third inning, featuring two-run singles by Takeya Nakamura and Tomoya Mori, and Ernesto Mejia’s three-run blast was the icing on the cake in the fourth as the Lions went on to rout Tohoku Rakuten. Mori homered twice and drove in four runs in the 19-hit onslaught.

Hawks 7, Buffaloes 4

At Kyocera Dome, Seiichi Uchikawa gave his team breathing room with a two-run homer in the seventh inning and went 2-for-5 with four RBIs as Softbank held off Orix, which is winless in its last seven games including one tie.

Shota Takeda (1-1) got the win.