When you’ve got a pitcher as good as Tomoyuki Sugano on the mound, the game plan is usually pretty simple.
Give him a lead, and get out of the way.
Shuichi Murata, Yoshiyuki Kamei and Hisayoshi Chono combined to drive in four runs in the first inning, and Sugano allowed only one over eight as the Yomiuri Giants beat the Yokohama BayStars 5-1 on Saturday night at Tokyo Dome.
“Tomoyuki was pitching today, and I thought if we could help him out early, we would be able to win,” Murata said.
Sugano was facing an opponent he shut out over eight innings last week and was almost just as dominant the second time around.
“Today was a different game, but I think it compared favorably to the last time,” Sugano said.
Sugano struck out eight and walked one to improve to 11-4 (with a 1.99 ERA), giving him the most victories in Japan. The lone run he allowed came on a wild pitch in the eighth and was the first he’s given up in the 29 innings he’s thrown across four starts in July.
“That was a little careless,” Sugano said of the wild pitch. “But I think a key point of today’s game was that we held them to no runs after that, so I think I pitched well.”
Yomiuri gave Sugano all the run support he would need in the first inning, driving in runs with three consecutive at-bats. Casey McGehee singled with one out and Shinnosuke Abe drew a two-out walk to set the table.
Murata then got things going with an RBI double.
“I’m glad I could get a hit with my very first chance,” Murata said.
Kamei tacked on a run with a single, and Chono tripled in two more to make the score 4-0.
Abe added another run to the lead with a homer, his 11th of the year, in the third inning. He moved within 15 hits of 2,000 for his career with the solo shot.
The contest looked a lot like the one last Saturday, when Yomiuri scored three in the first inning on the way to a 3-1 victory.
“This time, they scored more than last time,” said BayStars manager Alex Ramirez. “Four runs there, that was tough. “(Shoichi) Ino, in the first inning, he made a couple of mistakes with a few pitches, especially to Murata. The pitch was supposed to be inside and he left it right in the strike zone. Murata was the hero last game, now today he was able to get an RBI single in the first at-bat.”
Ino (4-5), the Yokohama starter, was charged with the loss. He allowed five runs over six innings with six strikeouts and three walks.
The BayStars had been on a roll since the All-Star break and lost for just the third time in 10 games. Yokohama holds a five-game lead over Yomiuri for the third-place spot in the CL.
Yokohama’s Masayuki Kuwahara began the eighth with a double and moved to third on a one-out hit by Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. He then raced home to score the BayStars’ only run on Sugano’s wild pitch.
Yomiuri’s Scott Mathieson took over for Sugano in the ninth and walked two batters and allowed a hit before closing out the game.
The CL clubs will meet again on Saturday afternoon at the Big Egg. Kan Otake (4-4, 5.22 ERA) will get the ball for the home team, with Satoshi Iizuka (0-2, 4.11) on the hill for the BayStars.
Fukudome slugs winning homer in 10th
Pinch hitter Kosuke Fukudome, the 2006 Central League MVP with Chunichi, hit a two-run, 10th-inning home run to beat his old team , lifting the Hanshin Tigers to a 4-2 win over the Dragons on Saturday.Swallows 9, Carp 1
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yasuhiro Ogawa (5-4) allowed an unearned run over six innings, Wladimir Balentien homered for the fifth straight game, and Tetsuto Yamada hit a three-run, sixth-inning homer as last-place Tokyo Yakult smashed the league-leading Carp.
Hawks 4, Fighters 0
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Kodai Senga allowed two hits over eight innings and got a pair of two-run home runs from his teammates as Fukuoka SoftBank blanked Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Senga (9-2) struck out seven without issuing a walk in a crisp 95 pitch performance. Cuban Livan Moinelo completed the three-hit shutout in the ninth as last year’s Japan Series champs suffered their NPB-worst 13th shutout defeat.
“Today I was able to throw strikes. I’m glad I didn’t allow a walk,” said Senga, who was out for 26 days in June due to back stiffness. “Winning is largely a matter of what the position players do, but I did little in the first half (of the season) so I want to contribute more in the second.”
Kenta Imamiya started a first-inning threat with a single off Akihiro Hakumura (0-2), but the Fighters right-hander extricated himself from the two-on, one-out tight spot. Hakumura, however, wasn’t so fortunate in the third.
After a one-out Kenji Akashi double, Hakumura threw a 3-1 fastball in the center of the strike zone and Imamiya drove it to right for an opposite-field home run.
Hakumura, making his second career start, retired eight of the nine remaining batters he faced. He allowed two runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out six. Yuki Yanagita hit his Pacific League-leading 24th home run in the eighth with a man on to ice the game.
“The team is in a bad way now, and I didn’t want to give up the game’s first runs. But I think I did a passable job,” Hakumura said.
Buffaloes 5, Eagles 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, rookie right-hander Taisuke Yamaoka (4-7) gave up two runs in seven innings, and Ryoichi Adachi snapped a 2-2, sixth-inning tie with a two-run double as Orix defeated Tohoku Rakuten.
Lions 6, Marines 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Shinsaburo Tawata (3-2) threw seven scoreless innings to win a duel of promising youngsters.
Sosuke Genda broke up a scoreless tie with a third-inning RBI single off Chiba Lotte’s Kota Futaki (4-5).
The Lions won their season-high eighth consecutive game.
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