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Nomura pitches Carp to sweep against Giants

Kyodo

Yusuke Nomura allowed a run in seven innings as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Yomiuri Giants 4-1 on Wednesday.

Nomura (2-2) allowed five hits and struck out eight without issuing a walk to outduel Giants starter Tomoyuki Sugano (3-4). Sugano’s poor command was exacerbated by some poor fielding, allowing the Carp to score four early runs. He was charged with three earned runs on 11 hits over seven innings.

After retiring the Giants in order in the top of the first, Nomura got a boost from his teammates with two runs in the bottom half.

“Emotionally, that was big,” said Nomura, who won for the first time since April 8. “Because my fastball was running so well, my other pitches worked better.”

Before 31,725 at Mazda Stadium, Kosuke Tanaka led off the Carp’s first with a double, went to third on Ryosuke Kikuchi’s bunt single and scored on Yoshihiro Maru’s sacrifice fly. Ryuhei Matsuyama then doubled home Kikuchi to make it a 2-0 game.

The bottom of the third developed in the same way, with Tanaka doubling and going to third when Kikuchi reached on an error on a grounder back to the pitcher. The Giants infield was playing in tight against Kikuchi, including rotund first baseman Juan Francisco, who had to race back to cover first. Sugano got the ball to Francisco on the baseline, but the first baseman dropped it and was charged with an error.

It was the third unfortunate play for Francisco in the series. He unwittingly allowed the winning run to score behind him in the confusing conclusion to Monday’s opener. On Tuesday, his failure to catch an easy foul pop behind first helped light the fire in a 10-run first inning. After striking out swinging twice, he was pulled as part of a fifth-inning defensive switch.

Nomura pitched like four runs would be more than enough. He allowed just one single through the first 5⅓-innings, and that runner was erased on a double play ball. Seiji Kobayashi, Nomura’s former batterymate at Hiroshima Prefecture’s Koryo High School, doubled with one out in the sixth and scored on Itaru Hashimoto’s single.

Setup man Ryuji Ichioka, whom the Carp acquired from Yomiuri last year as free-agent compensation, worked a 1-2-3 eighth, and Ren Nakazaki survived a pair of two-out singles to earn his first save.

BayStars 4, Swallows 2

At Yokohama Stadium, rookie Taiki Sekine delivered a three-run triple in the sixth inning as first-place Yokohama beat Tokyo Yakult and won five straight games for the second time this season.

Tigers 3, Dragons 2

At Hyogo Prefecture’s Koshien Stadium, Ryota Arai’s sayonara single capped a two-run, ninth-inning rally as Hanshin came from behind to beat Chunichi. Arai had earlier made it a one run game in the eighth inning with a pinch-hit homer.

With two outs and none on in the ninth, a single and three straight walks tied it and brought Arai to the plate to win it.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Lions 11, Buffaloes 6

At Saitama’s Seibu Prince Dome, Takeya Nakamura belted a pair of two-run home runs and had an RBI single as Seibu blasted Orix and reeled off six straight wins for the first time in two seasons and also moved into first place.

Eagles 7, Fighters 2

At Sapporo Dome, right-hander Yasunori Kikuchi (1-0) allowed two runs in 6⅔ innings and every member of Tohoku Rakuten’s starting lineup had a hit in a win that knocked Hokkaido Nippon Ham out of first place.

Marines 7, Hawks 4

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Luis Cruz tied the game 2-2 with his second home run in two games, a sixth-inning solo shot, and added a two-run double in a four-run seventh inning as Chiba Lotte went on to beat Softbank.