Rookie right-handed Masashi Ito worked seven innings and two relievers completed the shutout with four as the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers beat the Hiroshima Carp 5-0 on Saturday.
At the rainy Mazda Stadium in Hiroshima, Ito (5-4) allowed four hits, walked two and hit one punch while hitting two. As the Tigers led 1-0 in the fifth game, Ito was brought out of the corner by a double game from shortstop Takumu Nakano.
With runners in the corners and no outs, Nakano put a chopper in the middle and went into second place based on the assessment of the situation before shooting home to nail the runner who was trying to score from the third point.
“I was able to get out of tight spots today thanks in part to Nakano’s defense,” said Ito.
Jefry Marte drove three runs for the visitors. His base-laden groundout opened the scoring in the third, and his 14th homer made it 2-0 in the seventh.
Ito allowed the carp to load the bases with two outs on the seventh but managed to escape up the hill after a visit from Tiger skipper Akihiro Yano.
“He said, ‘I’ll try by leaving this in your hands,'” Ito said. “Just these few words from the skipper really focused me and I am glad that I was able to meet his expectations.”
Marte added an RBI single in an eighth round of 16 as the Tigers pulled away.
Carp rookie Haruki Omichi (3-2) suffered the defeat after allowing a run of five innings.
At the Jingu Stadium in Tokyo, Cristopher Mercedes (4-1) worked in the Yomiuri Giants 3-1 victory over the Yokoyama DeNA BayStars in 5⅔ goalless innings. Three Giants scored solo home runs, including Kazuma Okamoto, who turned 24.
At the Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Yasuhiro Ogawa (7-3) threw a five-hitter and reserve catcher Yudai Koga had four hits and drove in three runs when the third-placed Tokyo Yakult Swallows defeated the Chunichi Dragons 5-1, trailing four games from Hanschin.
At the MetLife Dome, Sachiya Yamasaki (4-5) worked seven innings, and leadoff hitter Shuhei Fukuda homered and drove in four runs as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Saitama Seibu Lions 8-0 to give them a three-game lead in the Pacific League against the Tohoku raise the Rakuten golden eagle.
At the Zozo Marine Stadium in Chiba, Shogo Nakamura’s homerun with two runs in the eighth inning brought the Chiba Lotte Marines from behind in a 5-3 win over the Eagles.
Nick Martinez (6-2) allowed an eight innings run at Naha’s Okinawa Cellular Field as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks defeated the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 7-1.
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