Right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa withstood five scoring opportunities and drew an 11-pitch bases-loaded walk to spark a four-run fourth inning for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows in a 4-0 win over the Yomiuri Giants on Wednesday night.
Ogawa (9-6) allowed seven hits, a walk and a hit batsman, while striking out six in 7⅓ innings. Ogawa left after hitting a batter with one out in the eighth on his 123rd pitch.
“Yesterday, (ace Masanori) Ishikawa opened the series in fine form with a good win and I was able to keep it going,” Ogawa said. “I let a lot of runners on base, but I was able to maintain my rhythm and that allowed me to get through it.”
Logan Ondrusek got the Swallows out of the eighth inning without incident, but closer Tony Barnette was needed in the ninth after Ryo Akiyoshi allowed two men on with no outs. Barnette retired all three batters he faced to earn his 30th save as the Swallows moved past the Giants into second place in the Central League, three games back of the Hanshin Tigers.
The Giants put a runner in scoring position in five of the first six innings against Ogawa but were 0-for-9 with three strikeouts and a double play. The closest the visitors came was in the third inning. With Soichiro Tateoka on third after a leadoff double and a sacrifice, Hayato Sakamoto lined a pitch up the middle that was deflected by Ogawa and caught by second baseman Tetsuto Yamada for the second out.
With Swallows runners on first and second and two outs in the fourth, the Giants elected to pitch around the Swallows’ No. 8 hitter, catcher Yuhei Nakamura, to try and get out of the inning against Ogawa. But the Yakult pitcher, a career .079 hitter, watched breaking balls out of the zone and fouled off every fastball Giants starter Tomoyuki Sugano (9-9) threw. Ogawa forced in a run with his second career walk, and Sugano couldn’t find the strike zone after that.
“I thought it would be tough, low scoring game against Sugano, and I was determined to gut it out as much as I could,” Ogawa said. “I was given a chance to drive in a run, so I just wanted somehow to put the bat on the ball. Emotions were running high and I was locked in.”
Sugano then walked leadoff man Wataru Hiyane and surrendered an RBI single to CL batting leader Shingo Kawabata. A wild pitch brought in the fourth run of the inning. The right-hander gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in four innings to take the loss.
Dragons 4, BayStars 3
At Yokohama Stadium, Kyohei Kamezawa reached on an error and Hector Luna drew a walk to set up a tie-breaking run in the fourth inning. Luna homered in the sixth and Kamezawa singled in another insurance run in the seventh as Chunichi moved into fifth place with its third straight win as Yokohama dropped into last place.
Carp 4, Tigers 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kris Johnson (10-6) threw eight shutout innings, and Daichi Osera earned his first pro save after closer Shota Nakazaki allowed two runs in the ninth as Hiroshima won its third straight.
Hawks 3, Marines 0
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Rick van den Hurk (7-0) struck out 10 over eight innings, and Dennis Sarfate completed the two-hitter with a 1-2-3 ninth for his 33rd save. Lee Dae-ho’s 28th home run of the season provided all the offense league-leading SoftBank would need to beat Chiba Lotte and win its fifth straight.
Fighters 3, Lions 0
At Sapporo Dome, Shohei Otani (13-3) struck out 10 in eight innings and closer Hirotoshi Masui completed the shutout as Hokkaido Nippon Ham defeated Seibu. Lions starter Yusei Kikuchi (7-8) allowed three runs in a wobbly first but hung on for six innings.
Buffaloes 3, Eagles 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yoshio Itoi hit a two-run homer and Tony Blanco singled in Hiroyuki Nakajima as Orix came from a run down in three-run fifth inning and held off last-place Tohoku Rakuten, which lost its eighth straight game.
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