YOKOHAMA – Shota Imanaga struck out seven over as many shutout innings as the second-year lefty picked up his 10th win of the season in the Yokohama BayStars’ 4-1 victory over the Chunichi Dragons on Thursday.
Imanaga (10-5) got early run support, with sluggers Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Jose Lopez hitting back-to-back RBI doubles and catcher Hiroki Minei driving in a run in the bottom of the first inning to put the home team ahead 3-0 at Yokohama Stadium.
The BayStars added another run in the seventh on Tsutsugo’s groundout, while Chunichi was able to score only once on Yohei Oshima’s groundout in the eighth.
Both teams had eight hits each in the game that lasted only 2 hours and 29 minutes.
Closer Yasuaki Yamasaki retired the side in the bottom of the ninth to get his 19th save and secure Yokohama’s third straight win.
“I was really worried about my pitching in the first inning,” said Imanaga, who yielded a leadoff single to Yota Kyoda and walked Yohei Oshima after a double play before getting cleanup hitter Alex Guerrero to fly out. “But I had a talk with Minei-san and after that I pitched looking only at his mitt.”
Imanaga, who scattered six hits and walked one during his 100-pitch effort en route to winning his fifth consecutive start, allowed a runner past first base only once in the seventh, when he had runners on the corners with one out but pitched out of the jam with a double play.
“Being able to score three runs in the first inning … was huge for Imanaga and then after that he just took over,” BayStars skipper Alex Ramirez said of the 23-year-old, who had eight wins in his rookie year.
“He has been very consistent the whole year. He’s one of the best pitchers we have until this point and I want to say omedeto (congratulations) to him that he won 10 games. It’s not easy, especially in the second year but he has done a tremendous job.”
Swallows 4, Giants 3
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Takahiro Araki hit a three-run home run and Kotaro Yamasaki had an RBI single in the second inning to give Tokyo Yakult a commanding 4-0 lead.
The hosts held on as first-year pitcher Tomoya Hoshi (4-5) kept Yomiuri to three runs in 5 1/3 innings before four relievers allowed only one runner on base the rest of the way.
Tigers 5, Carp 4
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Kosuke Fukudome delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, sending Hanshin past Central League-leading Hiroshima.
The Tigers halted their losing skid at three.
Lions 3, Eagles 0
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Takumi Kuriyama broke a scoreless tie with a game-ending three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth as Seibu blanked Tohoku Rakuten for the second straight night.
Starter Yusei Kikuchi (12-5) allowed only two hits over the distance in the Lions’ fifth straight win.
Fighters 8, Marines 7 (11)
At Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham earned a walk-off victory in the bottom of the 11th when Chiba Lotte reliever Takahiro Matsunaga (1-2) made a bad throw to second base on a pick-off attempt, ending a slugfest that included a second-inning grand slam by Haruki Nishikawa.