HIROSHIMA – Rookie Kazuki Yabuta made the most of his emergency start, pitching six scoreless innings for the Hiroshima Carp in a 3-0 win over the Yokohama BayStars on Wednesday.
The Carp, who are chasing their first Central League pennant since 1991, moved 12 games clear of the second-place Yomiuri Giants and now have a magic number of 10 to clinch the pennant.
Before 31,832 at Mazda Stadium, Yabuta (2-1) was asked to take the hill when scheduled starter Yuya Fukui complained of neck pain just before the start of the game. The rookie walked four and allowed two hits, while striking out five.
“Instead of thinking of innings, I took the mound as a middle reliever, and since that resulted in six innings, I guess it was a good thing to do,” Yabuta said. “I treated every inning as I was in middle relief, and thought of nothing but putting up a zero in that inning.
“At the start, I didn’t have a good feel for my fastball. And in that situation I got things right by leaning on my breaking pitches. Towards the end, my fastball came around and I was able to take command.”
Yabuta pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first, but his opposite number, BayStars starter Kazuki Mishima (0-1) was unable to do the same. With two on and two out, an infield single and a throwing error put a run on the board for the Carp, and Brad Eldred followed with another infield single that made it 2-0.
Seiya Suzuki hit his 22nd home run of the year to lead off the sixth and complete the scoring, and Takeru Imamura, Jay Jackson and Shota Nakazaki each threw a scoreless inning to close it out.
Mishima allowed three runs, one earned, on seven hits and a walk in his six inning effort.
Swallows 4, Giants 0
At Toyama Alpen Stadium, Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa (8-5) threw a five-hitter for his third straight complete game victory as Tokyo Yakult knocked second-place Yomiuri farther off the pace in the CL.
Dragons 1, Tigers 0
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi ace Kazuki Yoshimi (6-5) allowed four hits over eight innings to outduel Hanshin’s Randy Messenger (11-9) as the Dragons swept their two-game series to eliminate the Tigers from pennant contention.
Lions 8, Hawks 7
At Saitama’s Seibu Prince Dome, Tomoya Mori cracked a two-out, two-run, ninth-inning, walkoff double as Seibu scored three runs in the ninth off Fukuoka SoftBank closer Dennis Sarfate (0-7).
Eagles 13, Fighters 4
At Tokyo Dome, Rakuten roughed up Luis Mendoza (7-6), who had been out for nearly a month with neck pain.
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham right-hander surrendered six runs, five earned, in 3⅓ innings.
Marines 7, Buffaloes 5
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Katsuya Kakunaka brought the Marines from behind with a three-run, fifth-inning homer, and broke the tie in the sixth with a two-out, three-run double as Lotte came from behind to beat Orix.