The Hiroshima Carp squared off against a pitcher who hadn’t lost in a month, was on his home turf, and threw one of his better games of the year.
Fortunately for the Carp, their guy was pretty good, too.
Yusuke Nomura held the Yomiuri Giants to a single run, and Ryoma Nishikawa turned Miles Mikolas’ only real mistake into a key two-run homer in the fifth inning, as the Carp escaped Tokyo Dome with a 2-1 victory over the Yomiuri Giants on Tuesday night.
“I was trying to be aware of keeping the ball down while I was pitching,” Nomura said. “I had a lot of walks, but in the end, the relievers and the fielders helped me.”
The Carp, who lead the Central League by 7 1/2 games, improved to 16-5 against the Giants this season, including a perfect 7-0 at Tokyo Dome.
Nomura bent but didn’t break. He allowed seven hits and walked four batters but limited the Giants to Shuichi Murata’s home run in the second. Nomura, who struck out only two, improved to 9-4 for the season.
“I gave up the first run on a home run, but after that the fielders helped me out a lot,” Nomura said.
Relievers Takeru Imamura, Jay Jackson and closer Shota Nakazaki made the lead hold up in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.
“You can switch us around any way you want to, we’ve been getting the job done all year,” Jackson said. “We have a great bullpen. Our bullpen has been excellent, one through whoever you want to throw out there. It’s been a great thing for us.”
With Mikolas dealing for the Kyojin, Hiroshima got all its runs on one swing of the bat.
Takahiro Iwamoto drew a one-out walk in the fifth as the Carp searched for an answer to Murata’s second-inning home run. They got it when Nishikawa connected on a fastball that caught too much of the plate, sending it over the fence to put the Carp ahead 2-1.
“I was able to get good timing on a fastball and put a good swing on it,” Nishikawa said. “I’m happy it led to a come-from-behind home run.”
Mikolas allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings on the mound. He struck out 11, and walked one.
“It was supposed to be a fastball away, and I think I cut it off a little bit, and it came back over the middle,” he said of the pitch to Nishikawa. “It ended up being right down the middle and fell right into his bat.”
Mikolas (12-6) fell to 0-4 against the Carp this season. The loss also snapped a streak of four straight winning decisions (his last loss came on July 25 against Hiroshima), though he still recorded his ninth consecutive quality start.
“It’s a tough loss because it’s a close game and we’re really fighting for a spot in the playoffs right now,” Mikolas said. “But I’m not going to dwell on the loss, because the game is over. I’ll take whatever positives I can from the game and kind of put those in my back pocket and start getting ready for my next start.”
Murata’s home run was his 10th of the season for Yomiuri, which couldn’t break the game open against Nomura, despite putting a number of runners on base.
“He was great,” Jackson said of Nomura. “He got in some trouble a couple of times, but at the same time, he worked himself out of it every time. That’s big, especially this late in the season. In situations like that, him getting guys in scoring position, but not letting them score, we needed that.
“Especially with us missing Seiya, a key of our offense, and with the way Mikolas was pitching also,” Jackson added, referring to outfielder Seiya Suzuki who was injured, and may be lost for the season, during a game against the Yokohama BayStars last week.
The teams will meet again on Wednesday night at Tokyo Dome. Daichi Osera (8-1, 3.47) gets the call for the Carp, with Ryosuke Miyaguni (1-7, 4.59) set to start for the Giants.
Ono earns elusive first victory
Nishinomiya Hyogo Pref. KYODO
Hanshin rookie Taiki Ono threw six solid innings to pick up the first win in his 13th start this year as the Tigers blanked the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3-0 on Tuesday in the Central League.
Takashi Toritani opened the scoring for Hanshin in the second inning with an RBI single — his 1,991st career hit — and came home on Fumiya Hojo’s triple, while Hiroki Uemoto drove in another run in the fifth at Koshien Stadium.
Ono (1-7) had trouble finding the strike zone but struck out four while allowing two hits and five walks in his 87-pitch effort as the Tigers returned to their home stadium for the first time in about a month.
Three relievers — Kentaro Kuwahara, Marcos Mateo and Rafael Dolis — pitched a perfect inning each, with closer Dolis clocking 161 kph on his fastball en route to claiming a Central League-high 32nd save.
“There was a long period when I couldn’t win but I was able to get my first victory in front of all of these spectators who came out to cheer us on,” Ono said before a crowd of 43,735.
“I couldn’t really find my rhythm while pitching, but I was helped by our defense when I was in trouble and was able to turn all of the cheers from the stands into strength,” added the 23-year-old right-hander who surprised himself by getting his first career hit in the third.
Yakult’s 16th-year veteran southpaw Masanori Ishikawa (4-12) surrendered three runs — one of them earned — on six hits in seven innings.
Dragons 7, BayStars 6
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi came from behind to edge Yokohama, with pinch hitter Masahiro Araki driving in a run to tie the game 6-6 and rookie Yota Kyoda’s RBI single putting the home team ahead in the eighth.
Lions 3, Eagles 1
At Sendai’s Kobo Park, Hideto Asamura broke a 1-1 draw with an RBI hit in the sixth, while starter Ken Togame (7-5) yielded one run in 6-2/3 innings as Seibu claimed its seventh straight win over Tohoku Rakuten.
The Eagles dropped their sixth consecutive game.
Marines 6, Buffaloes 2
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Kentaro Inomoto hit a two-run single — his first RBI hit in his nine-year career — to give Chiba Lotte a 4-2 lead in the fifth and Katsuya Kakunaka hit a two-run homer two innings later to seal the win over Orix.
Hawks at Fighters — ppd.