HIROSHIMA – Former big leaguer Hiroki Kuroda picked up his 200th career win in top-flight pro ball after keeping the Hanshin Tigers off the scoreboard through seven innings in the Hiroshima Carp’s 7-0 win on Saturday.
Kuroda (7-5), who lost his two starts this month before the All-Star break, finally reached the milestone before a raucous home crowd of 32,075 at Mazda Stadium. The former Los Angeles Dodger and New York Yankee held Hanshin to five hits and three walks, while striking out nine in his 115-pitch outing.
“I’m really relieved more than anything. I went in determined to get it done today,” Kuroda said. “The fans always give me the courage to go on to the mound even when I’m about to give way. I could feel my teammates willing to get me the win, too. Although most of them are youngsters, they carried me.”
Hiroshima’s high-powered attack provided him with a quick lead in the first, Hector Luna slugging a three-run homer off Suguru Iwazaki (1-4) after the lefty issued two no-out walks.
Kuroda surrendered leadoff singles three times, but was rarely threatened, while Iwazaki gave up four more runs in the fourth.
“This really isn’t sinking in, I’ve never expected a day like this to arrive, especially here at Mazda Stadium after leaving for America all those years go,” said Kuroda, who added that he is expecting big things this season with the Carp — who have not won a pennant since 1991.
“The difference between the 199th win and the 200th is just one win for me, and I’ll now aim for the 201st. This team is the best I’ve played on in 20 years, a really good team not just with the regulars but also those on the bench. I want to win the league with them.”
The 41-year-old started his career with the Carp in 1997 before moving to the Dodgers in 2008. He has a 121-102 record in Nippon Professional Baseball and went 79-79 in the majors.
The veteran right-hander returned to Hiroshima last year and went 11-8 with a 2.55 ERA. He becomes the second Carp pitcher to win 200 career games after Hall of Famer Manabu Kitabeppu, who had a 213-141 record between 1976 and 1994.
BayStars 6, Giants 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Tatsuya Shimozono and Hiroyuki Shirasaki delivered back-to-back RBI pinch hits as Yokohama overturned a three-run deficit in a five-run sixth inning to beat Yomiuri.
Swallows 3, Dragons 1 (10)
At Nagoya Dome, Tokyo Yakult scored twice in the 10th inning, buoyed by a leadoff single and an error before back-to-back, two-out infield singles by Tetsuto Yamada and Yuhei Takai lifted the Swallows past Chunichi.
Fighters 6, Buffaloes 3
At Sapporo Dome, Shota Ono hit a three-run double in the seventh inning to propel surging Hokkaido Nippon Ham past Orix.
With a 2-0 lead, Buffaloes starter Brandon Dickson (7-7) loaded the bases with one out with two singles and a walk. He forced in a run when a call on a borderline 3-2 curve went against him. Ota followed by lining a 2-1 fastball into the gap to clear the bases.
“Our cleanup hitter (Sho Nakata) led off the inning with a single before the others also reached and I managed to ride that momentum,” said Ono, who is now 4-for-5 with 10 RBIs this season with the bases loaded. “I was happy frankly, got pretty excited and had goose bumps too. It feels it’s too good to be true.”
The inning wasn’t done, however, as Takuya Nakashima hit a two-out triple to plate Ono before Yang Dai-kang’s RBI single capped the rally for the Fighters, who are 20-1 since June 19.
The Buffaloes had taken a 1-0 lead on a fourth-inning Yoshio Itoi RBI double, but wasted scoring opportunities.
Fighters starter Hirotoshi Takanashi surrendered a run in the sixth before leaving with two outs and the bases loaded. Yohei Kagiya (1-1), however, retired Itoi to end the threat and Nippon Ham broke through in the home half of the inning.
Takanashi allowed two runs on six hits and three walks over 6-2/3 innings, fanning six.
Dickson gave up five runs on five hits and three walks, while striking out eight in 6-1/3 innings for Orix, which lost its third straight.
Lions 3, Hawks 1
At Yafuoku Dome, Tomoya Mori’s pinch-hit RBI single off Fukuoka SoftBank reliever Yuito Mori (4-3) broke a 1-1, eighth-inning tie and Seibu long reliever Kazuhisa Makita (7-0) threw two shutout innings to earn the win.
Eagles 6, Marines 5 (12)
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten slugger Zelous Wheeler hit back-to-back solo homers before Chiba Lotte overcame a four-run deficit, but Marines reliever Takahiro Matsunaga mishandled the ball in the 12th to hand the host Eagles a walk-off win.