TOKYO (Kyodo) – Yasutaka Shiomi broke a no-hit offer in the ninth inning and then fabricated the only inning of the game as the Central League-leading Yakult Swallows beat the Yomiuri Giants 1-0 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.
The victory at Jingu Stadium moved the Swallows, who have won six straight, two games ahead of second-placed Hanshin Tigers and 8-1 / 2 ahead of the two-time defending champions Giants.
Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano allowed just three runners in six innings on a mistake, a walk and a batter hit before coming away with a cramp in his pitcher’s hand. Two relievers carried the Giants’ offer for a combined draw in the ninth, before the Swallows struck.
After Swallows’ closest Scott McGough (3-2) had a scoreless ninth goal, Shiomi scored a single with a shot from closest Brazilian Thyago Vieira (0-2). The Swallows’ lead man fouled two Vieira shots before scoring through the infield. He followed that up by stealing the second.
“I was not at all calm,” he said. “We weren’t hit, so I was incredibly happy to have one. The stolen base was my biggest of the year.”
With two strikeouts, Tetsuto Yamada beat a single in the short infield, and the bouncing pitch in the first allowed Shiomi to sprint home on a courageous run in the second.
“I was so nervous. Vieira not only was throwing hard, but he was throwing shots with his cursor tonight, so it was tough,” Yamada said. “When I hit the ball I thought, the game was over, but I ran as hard as I could for the first one.”
Swallows starting pitcher Juri Hara tied Sugano for six innings, and three Yakult relievers combined to strike out nine of 10 batters they faced.
At Yokohama Stadium, Neftali Soto’s two-set home run in the eighth inning gave the last-place DeNA BayStars a 4-3 victory over the Tigers.
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Seiya Suzuki hit a grand slam in the fifth inning as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Chunichi Dragons 5-2.
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Steven Moya’s RBI single gave the Pacific League leaders Orix Buffaloes a 4-3 advantage over the Nippon Ham Fighters.
At Zozo Marine Stadium, ninth-inning Yoshiaki Watanabe’s double Naoya Masuda (1-6) carried the third-place Rakuten Eagles to a 3-2 victory over second-placed Lotte Marines, who lost 1-1 / 2 games behind Orix, first place.
At the MetLife Dome, Wataru Matsumoto (8-8) threw a hit for his first career shutout as the Seibu Lions beat the fourth-placed SoftBank Hawks 7-0. The loss brought the four reigning Japan Series champions down to five games from the Eagles, who currently sit last in the PL playoffs.