Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Dragons’ Ono fires three-hit shutout

Southpaw retires 15 straight batters in one stretch en route to third complete game of season

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Yudai Ono looked like he’d barely broken a sweat as he walked out of Tokyo Dome. The ease with which he went up and down the Yomiuri Giants’ lineup hadn’t given him much of a chance to work up one.

Ono threw a three-hit shutout, Nobumasa Fukuda and Ricardo Nanita hit home runs, and the Chunichi Dragons beat the Yomiuri Giants 5-0 in front of a crowd of 41,032 on Tuesday night at the Big Egg.

“I’m happy I was able to get in a rhythm and stay in it all game,” Ono said.

Ono allowed just three singles and a walk and threw 105 pitches in his third complete game, and first shutout, of the season. He retired 15 straight at one point. Ono improved to 5-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.62.

“Ono was really good tonight,” Dragons manager Motonobu Tanishige said. “He wasn’t overpowering, but in command.”

He had plenty of run support, too.

The Dragons were already leading 1-0 when Fukuda hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning. Nanita added a solo shot in the sixth. Fukuda’s homer was his second of the season, while Nanita cleared the fences for the seventh time.

“Our hitters did a good job tonight,” Ono said.

Nanita finished with three hits and lifted his batting average to .298 for the season.

“It feels good to get three hits any day,” Nanita said. “We had the day off yesterday and we came to practice and had a good BP. Ono did his thing, and we got the W.

“The key for me was to swing at strikes. Swing at strikes and don’t get too anxious and just wait for the pitch to come to me.”

Nanita has three multi-hit performances over his last four games, including a three-hit effort on Saturday against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows.

“Sometimes you go down, sometimes you go up,” Nanita said. “Now I have to take advantage of this good momentum so I can keep it going.”

The win snapped the Dragons’ four-game losing streak and was their first since Central League play resumed June 24.

“We were able to stop our losing streak and hope we can now put together a nice winning streak,” Ono said.

It was a forgettable night for Giants starter Kazuto Taguchi, who fell to 3-6. Taguchi allowed five runs on eight hits and struck out six in 5 1/3 innings.

Yomiuri didn’t do much at the plate, either. Shinnosuke Abe got the Kyojin‘s first hit of the night to start the bottom of the second, and the Giants went down in order until Hayato Sakamoto singled to lead off the home-half of the seventh. Ryoji Aikawa recorded the team’s third and final hit of the night in the eighth.

They simply didn’t have an answer for Ono.

“It always feels good to beat the Giants, especially when we are the visitors,” Ono said.

Nanita got the Dragons going with a single to begin the second and went to third on a double by Fukuda. Naomichi Donoue followed with a single to center to make the score 1-0.

Dayan Viciedo led off the top of the fourth with a single and Nanita followed with a double to put runners on second and third. Fukuda swung at the first pitch he saw, a 130-kph fastball, and sent the ball into the Dragons cheering section in left to make the score 4-0.

Nanita tacked on another run with his home run in the sixth.

“Nanita had some big hits for us tonight,” Tanishige said. “That really helped us, along with Fukuda’s home run.”

The second game of the series is scheduled for Wednesday night at Tokyo Dome. Raul Valdes (2-2) will get the start for Chunichi with Hayato Takagi (4-6) on the bump for Yomiuri.

Carp win 10th straight

Miyoshi Hiroshima Pref. KYODO

Yusuke Nomura allowed two runs over seven innings to pace the Central League-leading Hiroshima Carp to their 10th straight victory, a 3-2 triumph over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Tuesday.

Nomura gave up two solo homers among his four hits allowed, while walking one and striking out four before 13,642 at Miyoshi Kinsai Stadium. His record improved to a league-best nine wins against two losses.

Jay Jackson and Shota Nakazaki supplied one scoreless inning each, with Nakazaki earning his 16th save as the Carp posted their longest winning streak since 1994.

Trailing by a run in the third, Kosuke Tanaka homered to open the third inning against submarine right-hander Hirofumi Yamanaka (3-6). Four straight no-out singles in the fourth put Hiroshima in front for good. Hector Luna and Seiya Suzuki set the table, Takahiro Arai singled home the go-ahead run and Ryuhei Matsuyama padded the lead.

Nomura surrendered a leadoff homer in the sixth to Keiji Obiki, but retired the next six batters before handing the ball over to the bullpen.

Yamanaka allowed all three runs on six hits and a walk over four innings. He struck out one as the Swallows’ saw their three-game win streak come to a halt.

Tigers 5, BayStars 3

At Koshien Stadium, Takashi Toritani scored two runs and Mauro Gomez drove in Hanshin’s win over Yokohama.

Tigers starter Randy Messenger (7-5) allowed three runs — two earned — over seven innings as the hosts halted a three-game losing streak.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Fighters 3, Lions 0

At Sapporo Dome, Mitsuo Yoshikawa (5-5) scattered six hits and three walks over five-plus innings and allowed no runs with the help of a superb double play turned by third baseman Brandon Laird.

Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s bullpen then held Seibu hitless for four innings as the Fighters won six straight for the first time this year.

Buffaloes 3, Eagles 2

At Okinawa Cellular Field, Yuki Nishi (3-8) allowed a run on five hits over seven innings, while striking out nine as Orix held off Tohoku Rakuten to end a six-game losing streak despite committing five errors.