NAGOYA – An 11th-inning wild pitch by Chunichi closer Koji Fukutani broke up a scoreless pitchers’ duel as the Central-League leading Yomiuri Giants defeated the Dragons 2-0 on Friday.
Fukutani (1-1) surrendered back-to-back singles to Hayato Sakamoto and Luis Cruz on his first six pitches. After a sacrifice advanced the runners, a bounced 0-2 pitch got past catcher Shota Sugiyama, and Sakamoto scored. With two outs, Taishi Ota singled in an insurance run for the Giants.
Yomiuri reliever Scott Mathieson (4-0) worked two innings from the ninth, working around a single and two walks in relief of starter Tomoyuki Sugano. Mathieson was pleased with his 31-pitch outing, and beating the team that recently swept the Giants in three games at Tokyo Dome.
“I wanted to keep the score 0-0 for Sugano, he pitched unbelievable so was just trying my best out there,” Mathieson said. “We haven’t scored lots of runs lately so to get a win like that in extra innings hopefully puts momentum our way and we’ll finish the road trip strong.
“Definitely we want revenge, they’re a very good team, they play well together. I believe we’re a good team (too) and it’s time for us to get revenge.”
Sugano couldn’t improve his 4-0 record despite blanking the Dragons over eight innings. The right-hander, who has a 0.61 ERA in nine starts, allowed six hits and two walks while striking out five in his 101-pitch outing.
Former major leaguer Raul Valdes, who logged his only win of the season against the Giants on May 8, allowed three straight singles in the fifth to load the bases but came through without letting in a run thanks to strong defense capped off by a good catch by Yohei Oshima in center.
Shortstop Naomichi Donoue came to Valdez’s rescue twice in the ninth after the Cuban allowed two leadoff singles. A liner to short by Ota was caught — on a hop according to the umpires. Thinking it was a lineout, Ota stopped running, allowing Chunichi to record a big 6-4-3 double play. Donoue then made a great catch on a flair in shallow left field.
Valdes got the hook after the ninth. He allowed eight hits, two walks and striking out 11. He made 126 pitches.
Mathieson had trouble controlling his fastball but ended both of his innings with swinging strikes on some beautiful sliders.
Giants closer Hirokazu Sawamura gave up a single in the bottom of the 11th but a double play ground ball and another groundout earned him his 11th save.
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