SENDAI – Aren Kuri allowed three hits and no walks over the distance to throw his first career shutout as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 2-0 on Tuesday in the season’s final interleague game.
The win lifted the three-time defending Central League champs to within one game of the league-leading Yomiuri Giants. The Eagles’ loss left them second in the Pacific League, just winning-percentage points behind the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
“Last year, when I took the mound in the ninth inning, I let our opponents score,” said Kuri, who improved to 3-3. “This time I pitched for all I was worth, focusing on one batter at a time, one out at a time in order to keep that from happening.
“I owe this to my fielders, who made those plays behind me.”
But if there were a golden glove for the game, Kuri would have won it after spearing a liner, fielding four grounders and diving to catch a little fly near the line to end the eighth.
The only downside was that Kuri was unable to keep the winning ball as a souvenir after left fielder Ryoma Nishikawa threw it into the stands after the final out at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
“Ryoma threw that one away, so I’m going to have to pitch another shutout so I can have a ball to keep,” Kuri said.
The Carp opened the scoring in the first on Ryosuke Kikuchi’s fifth home run of the season, off right-hander Shu Sugahara (0-1). The right-hander’s throwing error contributed to Hiroshima’s fifth-inning insurance run.