Messenger goes distance as Tigers shut out Swallows


Randy Messenger struck out nine over the distance and Masahiro Nakatani hit a two-run home run as the Hanshin Tigers blanked the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 3-0 on Friday.

Messenger (11-5) tossed a four-hitter, yielding two walks in his 127-pitch outing at Kyocera Dome Osaka to improve his ERA to 2.44. The 35-year-old American now shares the lead in wins in the Central League with Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano.

“It’s thanks to my teammates. They put me in good situations — we got to score runs for me to get wins and, like I said, these guys have been doing a great job behind me all year,” Messenger said.

When asked which part of his performance he was happy with, Messenger said, “Just the pace — being able to move in and out, up and down, keeping them (Yakult batters) off balance was a good thing, so I guess (catcher Ryutaro) Umeno and I really had a good thing going today.”

On what a shutout win means for a starter, he said, “It means you did your job. Luckily, these guys always come through for me when we need it, and we scored that one run and then Masahiro came through with the two-run home run so that’s all I needed.”

Hanshin broke a scoreless tie in the fifth when Nakatani scored on an opponent’s throwing error. The seventh-year player who is appearing regularly in games for the first time this season got his homer off David Buchanan (5-9) in the seventh.

Buchanan was tagged with the loss despite holding the Tigers to three hits and fanning six over seven innings.

Dragons 6, Giants 5 (10)

At Tokyo Dome, Chunichi managed to score the winning run against Yomiuri as Nobumasa Fukuda grounded into a double play in the top of the 10th, and Daisuke Sobue retired the side in the bottom frame for his first save in two seasons.

Former ace closer Hitoki Iwase (3-4), aged 42, got the last out of the ninth in his 949th game appearance, tying Tetsuya Yoneda for the all-time record of games pitched in Nippon Professional Baseball.

BayStars 13, Carp 3

At Yokohama Stadium, Masayuki Kuwahara blasted a grand slam in the second inning to erase Hiroshima’s 3-1 lead as Yokohama outhit the league-leading team 14-7. Lefty Kenta Ishida (4-4) allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out nine over six innings.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Eagles 3, Marines 2

At Sendai’s Kobo Park Miyagi, Ryo Hijirisawa tied the game 2-2 with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth and Toshihito Abe followed with a walk-off RBI single as Tohoku Rakuten came from behind to beat Chiba Lotte and stop its losing skid at three.

Lions 8, Hawks 4

At Saitama’s MetLife Dome, Hotaka Yamakawa hit a two-run double in the fifth to give Seibu a 4-2 lead over the league-leading SoftBank, and Takeya Nakamura hit a solo shot in the home team’s four-run seventh to give the Lions their 13th straight win..

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