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Dragons’ Kazuki Yoshimi tosses three-hitter for first shutout in six years

Kyodo

Kazuki Yoshimi once again looked like the ace of the Chunichi Dragons pitching staff, throwing a three-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over the Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Friday.

Yoshimi posted 10-plus wins for five straight seasons between 2008 and 2012, when he threw his last shutout. After that, elbow troubles have limited the right-hander’s availability.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do, but to think it happened is pretty unbelievable. More than the shutout, I’m prouder of my mushikyu (no-walk, no-hit batsman) game,” said Yoshimi (4-4) of his three-strikeout, 103-pitch effort in which he also drove in the winning run.

“We were in a losing streak, so I wasn’t thinking of anything but winning the game and turning the ball over to (Shinnosuke) Ogasawara to pitch us to another victory tomorrow. That was my motivation today.

“Rather than this pitch or that being the key tonight, I think the important point was staying focused right until the end.”

With two outs in the fourth inning, Yoshimi singled in Zoilo Almonte for Chunichi’s first run off David Buchanan (8-8).

Dragons first baseman Dayan Viciedo made it 2-0 in the fifth inning with his 16th home run of the season. Buchanan allowed two runs on nine hits and two walks, while striking out two over seven innings.

“Yoshimi pitched an amazing game and we’re in debt to him today,” Viciedo said. “As for my home run, I was able to put a good swing on a curveball and that was a big run for us. I was a little out in front but I was still able to square it up.”

Almonte set up the hosts’ third run at Nagoya Dome with a leadoff double in the eighth off reliever Tomoya Hoshi, and Masato Matsui’s sacrifice fly gave Yoshimi a three-run cushion heading into the ninth.

With the Swallows No. 9 hitter coming up, Yoshimi had a chance to stay away from the heart of the Swallows order, where No. 3 man Tetsuto Yamada and cleanup hitter Wladimir Balentien are tied for the Central League lead in home runs with 27.

“In the ninth with a three-run lead I was thinking they have Yamada, Balentien and so the thing would be to throw strikes, let them get themselves out and then I wouldn’t have to worry about those guys.”

Tigers 3, BayStars 1

At Yokohama Stadium, Randy Messenger (11-6) pitched seven scoreless innings and singled in a run to cap a two-run second in Hanshin’s win over Yokohama.

Carp 9, Giants 3

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Seiya Suzuki blasted a pair of two-run homers as Hiroshima defeated Yomiuri to post its second six-game win streak of the season.

Yusuke Nomura (6-2) allowed three runs over 6-2/3 innings to get the win.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Hawks 5, Fighters 0

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Kodai Senga (8-4) worked 7-2/3 innings, the first time he hadn’t allowed a run in nearly two months in Fukuoka SoftBank’s victory over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Alfredo Despaigne slugged a first-inning, two-run home run, and two relievers completed the six hit shutout.

Buffaloes 2, Marines 1

At Kyocera Dome, Orix’s Yuki Nishi (6-10) scattered six hits and two walks to allow just a run over seven innings to outduel Chiba Lotte’s Kota Futaki (2-3), who threw a complete game in defeat.

Lions 7, Eagles 3

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (9-2) threw seven innings and picked up his first win since June 22 as Seibu came from behind to beat Tohoku Rakuten.

In the fourth inning, Takeya Nakamura brought the Lions from a run down with a two-run home run. He tied a PL record by homering in his sixth straight game.