NISHINOMIYA, HYOGO PREF. - Kento Itohara’s ninth-inning RBI single broke up a scoreless tie, lifted the Hanshin Tigers to a 1-0 win and a three-game sweep over the struggling Tokyo Yakult Swallows on Thursday.
The Swallows’ David Buchanan and the Tigers’ Haruto Takahashi each worked six innings, but could only duel to a stalemate at Koshien Stadium. Buchanan struck out four, while allowing six hits. Takahashi struck out seven, while giving up four hits and a walk.
Once the starters were out of the game, however, both teams wasted scoring opportunities until the Tigers cashed in against Scott McGough (2-1).
With closer Taichi Ishiyama out of action, McGough issued two one-out walks and a single to Fumiya Hojo that loaded the bases for Itohara. The 26-year-old fell behind but lined a 1-2 fastball into the gap to end it.
“Hojo batting in front of me set up the scoring opportunity for me, and I wanted to do my part,” Itohara said. “(Takahashi) pitched great. We want to get a win next to his name next time.”
Hanshin closer Rafael Dolis (2-1), who worked the ninth, earned the win.
The Swallows’ loss was their eighth straight.
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At Sapporo Dome, utility infielder Kenshi Sugiya homered from both sides of the plate and hit a sacrifice fly in Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s rout of Tohoku Rakuten.