HIROSHIMA - Tomoyuki Sugano became the first pitcher in 40 years to throw eight shutouts in a season as he and the Yomiuri Giants blanked the Hiroshima Carp 4-0 on Thursday.
Sugano (15-8) struck out 11 and completed his four-hitter without issuing a walk. He pulled even with Carp right-hander Daichi Osera for the Central League lead in wins.
“He’s not easy to score against, although we hit some balls that were really close to being hits,” Carp manager Koichi Ogata said.
Sugano said he needed to make some adjustments if he is called upon to pitch in the playoffs.
“I had some good spots and some bad spots (tonight),” he said. “I fell behind in counts, and that’s something I want to fix.”
The victory moved the third-place Giants a full game ahead of the fourth-place Yokohama BayStars in the fight for the CL’s final playoff spot.
Kazuma Okamoto opened the scoring in the fifth, when he singled off Hiroshima starter Yusuke Nomura (7-6) to drive in Hayato Sakamoto. Sugano delivered a sacrifice fly in the sixth to make it a 2-0 game, and veterans Shinnosuke Abe and Hisayoshi Chono opened the Giants’ eighth with back-to-back home runs.
The last pitcher to post eight shutouts in a season was Kintetsu Buffaloes Hall of Famer Keishi Suzuki, who managed the feat in 1978. Sugano’s 10 complete games are the most since Chihiro Kaneko finished that many for the Orix Buffaloes in 2014.
Swallows 2, Tigers 1
At Koshien Stadium, Nobuyuki Okumura scored the game’s first run in the fourth inning and his first career home run broke a 1-1, ninth-inning tie. Taichi Ishiyama worked around two hits in the ninth to record his 34th save as Yakult beat Hanshin to knock the Tigers out of playoff contention.
Buffaloes 2, Hawks 1
At Kyocera Dome, Kazumasa Yoshida doubled in the winning run in the ninth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie and lifting Orix to a walk-off win over SoftBank.
Fighters 4, Eagles 3
At Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Taishi Ota delivered the big blow, a three-run triple in the fourth inning, and Kensuke Kondo delivered a tie-breaking sacrifice fly in the fifth as Nippon Ham came from behind to beat Rakuten.
Lions 6, Marines 3
At Zozo Marine Stadium, Hideto Asamura doubled and homered and drove in three runs, establishing a franchise RBI record with 127 as Seibu beat Lotte.