Losing a shot at a perfect game because of an error in the sixth inning didn’t faze Miles Mikolas one bit.
Nothing gets to him on the mound these days, least of all the Hanshin Tigers.
Mikolas allowed one hit over the distance, and Shuichi Murata had a five-RBI night at the plate as the Yomiuri Giants routed the Tigers 8-1 on Tuesday night in front of 44,605 fans at Tokyo Dome.
“He threw fewer than 100 pitches and was really good tonight, giving up just one hit,” Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said of Mikolas, who needed just 95 tosses to get the job done.
Mikolas didn’t allow a baserunner until Ryutaro Umeno reached on an error by Murata at third with two outs in the sixth. Mikolas walked the next batter, and the second error of the inning, this one a wild throw by shortstop Hayato Sakamoto, allowed a run to score. Mikolas didn’t give up a hit until Mauro Gomez singled to lead off the seventh.
“It didn’t bother me at all,” Mikolas said. “We were still winning by a lot of runs. I knew that we were still going to win the game.”
The run Mikolas (10-3) allowed was unearned and the right-hander gave up just the one hit while striking out six and walking one. He lowered his ERA to an NPB-best 1.83 and moved into a tie with Hanshin’s Shintaro Fujinami for the most wins in the Central League. Mikolas has also been on the right side of his last eight decisions.
“It feels great to have won eight in a row,” Mikolas said.
The win allowed the Giants to pass the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and move into second place in the CL. The Kyojin also shaved a game off the Tigers’ cushion at the top and now trail their rivals by 2 1/2 games in the standings.
“We don’t have that many games remaining, so every game is important,” Murata said.
The Giants hit all the right buttons at the plate on Tuesday, racking up 11 hits and walking nine times.
Murata led the way with a 2-for-5 performance that featured a three-run double in the third and a two-run single in the sixth.
“Murata came through with big hits while the bases were loaded,” Hara said, referring to both of Murata’s run-scoring at-bats. He provided more than enough offense for us tonight.”
Yasuyuki Kataoka hit his sixth home run of the year, a solo shot, in the sixth, while Sakamoto and Shinnosuke Abe were credited with an RBI apiece.
Abe also drew three walks, in consecutive plate appearances, during the game to lift his season total to 15 free passes against Hanshin pitching.
Tigers starter Randy Messenger dropped his third straight decision on a disastrous night. Messenger (7-10) allowed five runs on seven hits and walked five in 3 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
Gomez’s single in the seventh was Hanshin’s only hit of the night, and Takashi Toritani drew the team’s only walk.
The Giants didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard. Soichiro Tateoka led off the bottom of the first with an infield single and was sacrificed to second before scoring on a single to center by Sakamoto.
The Kyojin drew three consecutive one-out walks to load the bases in the third, before Messenger struck out Yoshiyuki Kamei. Murata made him pay with his bases-clearing double, making the score 4-0.
“We were able to get the lead and when it got to 4-0 we felt we had a huge advantage,” Murata said.
Yomiuri loaded the bases again in the fifth, and added another run when Abe drew a walk.
Fortune smiled on the Tigers briefly in the top of the sixth.
Mikolas retired the first two batters of the frame with ease and was on track for a 1-2-3 inning until Murata’s error. Mikolas walked the next batter, Toritani, and the error by Sakamoto on a grounder hit by Yamato Maeda allowed a run to score.
Yomiuri pulled that run back on Kataoka’s solo shot in the bottom half and added two more on Murata’s single later in the frame.
The Giants are trying to claw their way to a fourth consecutive CL title, and will take another shot at the first-place team on Wednesday, when Tetsuya Utsumi takes the mound against the Tigers’ Atsushi Nomi.
“If we all do our jobs and the fans keep supporting us, we can win the championship,” Murata said.
Dragons solve Kuroda
Nagoya — Hiroki Kuroda (7-6) surrendered a three-run, fourth-inning home run to Issei Endo, was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fifth and suffered the loss as the Chunichi Dragons defeated the Hiroshima Carp 3-1 on Tuesday in the Central League.
Kuroda’s four-inning stint was his shortest since returning from the big leagues.
BayStars 3, Swallows 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Takayuki Kajitani and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo hit back-to-back solo homers off reliever Ryo Akiyoshi (5-1) to break a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning as Yokohama defeated Tokyo Yakult.
Yasuaki Yamasaki earned his 31st save to tie the NPB record for rookies set by Chunichi’s Tsuyoshi Yoda in 1990.
Lions 1, Eagles 0
At Saitama’s Omiya Stadium, Seibu ace Takayuki Kishi (3-4) allowed five hits over seven innings, and two relievers completed a six-hit shutout of Tohoku Rakuten.
The game’s only run came in the sixth, when Ryota Wakiya tripled and scored on a wild pitch by Eagles starter Takahiro Norimoto (6-9).
Hawks 1, Buffaloes 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Western League strikeout leader Kodai Senga (1-0) was called up by Fukuoka Softbank, worked seven innings and outdueled Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (6-4) to win his first career start.
Kenta Imamiya’s second-inning squeeze drove in the game’s only run.
Fighters 6, Marines 0
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Hokkaido Nippon Ham ace Shohei Otani (12-3) struck out 12 as he shut out Chiba Lotte on five hits.
Haruki Nishikawa broke the deadlock with a third-inning RBI single off Rhee Dae-eun (9-3), who allowed five unearned runs in the fifth.
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