NAGOYA – Rookie Shunta Wakamatsu threw seven shutout innings on four hits and halted the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers in the Chunichi Dragons’ 5-0 win on Sunday.
Wakamatsu (8-3) had an early scare at Nagoya Dome in the opening inning, when he loaded the bases with two singles and a walk with one out, but struck out Mauro Gomez and retired Ryota Imanari with a grounder. The 20-year-old had three perfect innings from the third and only allowed two more singles before he was called off the mound.
“I had a shaky start and worried the fans, but I could make an adjustment, pitching my kind of game and getting them to hit grounders,” said Wakamatsu, who struck out seven and walked two in a 99-pitch effort. “I just focused on not giving up the first run.”
The Dragons finally broke the deadlock in the bottom of the seventh, pinch hitter Masahiko Morino singling in a run off Yuya Ando’s first pitch after Hanshin starter Suguru Iwazaki (3-7) loaded the bases.
“I haven’t managed to hit much this year either when runners were in scoring position or with the bases loaded, so I’m relieved,” said Morino.
Iwazaki allowed four hits, walked one and hit a batter over 6⅓ innings in 95 pithches.
Atsushi Fujii doubled the lead with two-out, bases-loaded single off Ando in the seventh, and Ryosuke Hirata sealed the game with a three-run home run in the eighth off Shinobu Fukuhara.
Takuya Asao and Raul Valdes kept the Tigers off the scoreboard, throwing an inning each to close the game for the Dragons.
Swallows 6, Carp 0
At Jingu Stadium, Tokyo Yakult’s Shohei Tateyama (5-2) pitched seven shutout innings on three hits and Keiji Obiki drove in the opening run in the second off Hiroshima’s Takaya Toda (3-2). Lastings Milledge added two more in the fifth with a one-out double off the southpaw.
Hawks 5, Eagles 3 (12)
At Yafuoku Dome, one out away from the game being called a 12-inning tie, Nobuhiro Matsuda belted a two-run sayonara homer to lift Fukuoka SoftBank past Tohoku Rakuten. The Eagles were denied a chance to take the lead in the eighth, when left fielder Seiichi Uchikawa threw out Zelous Wheeler at the plate. The win assured the Hawks will finish no worse than third, guaranteeing them a spot in the playoffs.
Lions 9, Marines 3
At QVC Marine Field, Ginjiro Sumitani turned the game around with a three-run homer off Chiba Lotte’s Yuta Omine (7-7) in the second to hand Seibu the lead for good. Rookie Kona Takahashi (5-1), who won August’s pitcher of the month award on Friday, allowed two runs in five innings for his fifth straight win.
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