YOKOHAMA – Minoru Iwata and three relievers combined on a five-hitter as the Hanshin Tigers beat the error-prone Yokohama BayStars 3-2 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.
A packed house of 28,195 watched a well-pitched game that was eventually decided by mistakes. With no outs and a runner on second after a bloop double by Fumiya Hojo, BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (1-2) bounced a throw to first on a sacrifice bunt attempt, allowing pinch runner Takahiro Kumagai to round third and score at Yokohama Stadium.
Lefty Atsushi Nomi, the Tigers’ 39-year-old former ace, earned the win after he struck out three in a scoreless eighth. With the tying run on, he struck out Yokohama cleanup hitter Yoshitomo Tsusugo looking at two straight inside fastballs in the Central League contest.
“My only focus was on executing those things I can do,” said Nomi, who improved to 2-2 for the season, while notching his 100th career win.
“I didn’t want to give in against Tsutsugo, and so I trusted to my ability to have good arm action.”
Iwata allowed a run on two hits, a walk and a hit batsman over 5-2/3 innings. Former big leaguer Kyuji Fujikawa inherited a two-on, two-out jam in the sixth, but retired 2017 CL batting champion Toshiro Miyazaki.
But in the next inning, Fujikawa surrendered a leadoff homer to Masayuki Kuwahara, who took BayStars lefty Shota Imanaga off the hook for the loss.
Imanaga allowed two runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batsman, while striking out six. He was the victim of a fielding foul-up that allowed the Tigers to take the lead in a two-run fourth.
The BayStars opened the scoring against Iwata in the first inning with the help of an error. Tatsuhiro Shibata doubled with one out, went to third on an error and scored on a groundout.
The Tigers, however, came from behind in the fourth. Yoshio Itoi set the table with a double and scored on Shunsuke Fujikawa’s single.
The BayStars then shot themselves in the foot. Hojo’s routine pop fly to shallow right fell in between Shibata, playing second, and rookie right fielder Kazuki Kamizato. With two outs, Fujikawa was already off and running, and beat the throw home easily after Kamizato had trouble collecting the ball.
Spencer Patton worked around a leadoff double in the eighth to keep it tied, and Nomi did his bit in the home half before Hojo got the Tigers started with a hustling double after his little flare landed down the line in shallow left.
Kuwahara reached on an error in the ninth, but Tigers closer Rafael Dolis escaped trouble to record his 17th save.
“In a positive way, Imanaga pitched a very good game, Patton did a tremendous job,” Yokohama manager Alex Ramirez said. “Unfortunately, we lost in the ninth inning, and that is part of the game.”
Carp 4, Giants 2,
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, 19-year-old rookie Koya Takahashi (1-1) allowed two runs over six innings and struck out seven to earn his first pro victory as Hiroshima beat Yomiuri, extending its winning streak to six games.
The Carp came from behind to beat Tomoyuki Sugano (5-5) on fifth-inning homers by Ryosuke Kikuchi and Takayoshi Noma.
Swallows 9, Dragons 6
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tetsuto Yamada drove in four runs, three on a game-winning, three-run blast in the bottom of the ninth, as Tokyo Yakult topped Chunichi.
The Swallows have won four in a row.
Lions 14, Buffaloes 11
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, PL-leading Seibu battered Orix pitching, belting out a season-high 18 hits, and held off the Buffaloes’ six-run ninth inning.
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