SAPPORO – Hiroshi Urano threw six scoreless innings to pace the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to a 4-0 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Saturday.
It was the Fighters’ fifth consecutive victory.
The right-hander struck out seven, while allowing two hits and one walk to improve to 3-1. Pitching in manager Hideki Kuriyama’s novel starting pitching setup, Urano is the first starter other than staff ace Kohei Arihara to go six innings since June 18.
Marines right-hander Chihaya Sasaki (1-1) cruised through the first three innings but fell apart in the fourth. He allowed four runs on two walks and five hits.
Taishi Ota singled and Kensuke Kondo walked to open the Fighters’ fourth, and with one out, Ryo Watanabe scored Ota with a double. Kondo came home on Kazunari Ishii’s sacrifice fly. With two down, three straight singles made it 4-0.
“In the same way they did yesterday, the veterans set the table for me, and I was able to contribute to the first run,” said the 24-year-old Watanabe, who singled in the first run in Nippon Ham’s 5-3 win on Friday night.
Kuriyama, who has managed most of his starting pitchers this season by how many batters they face rather than by pitch counts, let Urano work into the sixth after he faced just 16 batters through the first five innings.
Besides Arihara, the only other Fighter starting pitcher not on a short leash this season has been Naoyuki Uwasawa, who was knocked out for the season when a line drive broke his left kneecap on June 18.
Three relievers completed Nippon Ham’s five-hit shutout, with closer Ryo Akiyoshi working the ninth despite the luxury of a four-run lead.
Eagles 1, Hawks 1
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Hideto Asamura’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly proved to be the difference in Tohoku Rakuten’s triumph over Fukuoka SoftBank, which dropped its sixth straight.
The Hawks’ PL lead over the second-place Fighters has shrunk from seven at the All-Star break to two.
Buffaloes 3, Lions 1
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, rookie Daichi Takeyasu (2-0) worked seven innings, Masataka Yoshida slugged a tie-breaking home run and Orix’s bullpen delivered two solid innings in a win over Seibu.
BayStars 4, Dragons 3
At Yokohama Stadium, Kenta Ishida (1-0) allowed a run over five innings to lead Yokohama past Chunichi.
Tigers 4, Swallows 3
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin got to Tokyo Yakult starter Yasuhiro Ogawa for two runs in the eighth, and Fumiya Hojo doubled and scored the winning run in the ninth.
Carp 4, Giants 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Xavier Batista brought Hiroshima back from a two-run deficit with two-run home runs in the sixth and eighth innings in a victory over CL_leading Yomiuri.