A superb all-around effort from Hiroshima Carp starter Kenta Maeda inspired his languishing club to a morale-boosting 4-0 victory Thursday night over the Yakult Swallows.
Right-hander Maeda (2-1) was masterful on the mound and nearly as deadly with the bat on a chilly night at Jingu Stadium, just a few days before his 22nd birthday.
Maeda's line on the night: eight innings pitched, no runs allowed on four hits, eight strikeouts, 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and a single, two runs scored.
Veteran Hiroshima left-hander Ken Takahashi, who turns 41 this month, gave up a pair of singles in the ninth before retiring the next two batters he faced. Carp skipper Kenjiro Nomura then brought in 201-centimeter righty Mike Schultz to face pinch-hitter Kazuhiro Hatakeyama, who grounded out to short to end it.
Locked in a scoreless pitchers' duel with Swallows lefty Masanori Ishikawa, Maeda helped his own cause when he laced a double into the corner in left field to lead off the fifth. After moving to third on a wild pitch by Ishikawa, Maeda raced home to open the scoring on a sacrifice fly to deep left off the bat of Eishin Soyogi.
Maeda's bat also played a key role in Hiroshima's second run in the seventh inning. After Yoshiyuki Ishihara hammered his second double of the night off Ishikawa, Maeda singled to leave men at first and third before Akihiro Higashide punched an RBI single through a drawn-in infield to make it 2-0.
At that point, Kenichi Matsuoka relieved Ishikawa. He ended up hitting Soyogi in the back to load the bases before giving up a two-run line single to left to Kenta Kurihara to make it a three-run seventh for the Carp.
Carp catcher Ishihara was 3-for-4 on the evening with a pair of doubles, helping his club up its record to 3-8 on the season by taking two out of three at Jingu. The Swallows dropped to 7-5.
Yakult starter Ishikawa (0-3) took the loss. He gave up four runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings.
The Swallows begin a 14-game road trip Friday that will take them to Osaka, Hiroshima, Matsuyama, Nagoya and Yokohama before returning to Jingu Stadium on April 27 to face the Hanshin Tigers.
The Carp move down the road to play the BayStars for three beginning Friday.
Elsewhere in the CL, the Baystars edged the Chunichi Dragons 2-1 at Yokohama Stadium. At Koshien Stadium, the Yomiuri Giants bested the Hanshin Tigers 8-5.
In the Pacific League, southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada got 15 strikeouts and went the distance as the Softbank Hawks pummeled the Lotte Marines 9-1 at Yahoo Dome.
Wada (2-1) allowed one run off Tadahito Iguchi's double in the first inning, but tossed eight scoreless innings. He allowed just four hits and no walks in his 129 pitches.
Yuya Hasegawa hit a second-inning sacrifice fly to tie the game 1-1, and Yuichi Honda belted a two-run home run and the Hawks added one more run on first baseman Kim Tae-kyun's error in the third.
Jose Ortiz and Hiroki Kokubo each hit a homer for the Hawks in a five-run fourth inning.
Elsewhere, the Nippon-Ham Fighters defeated the Rakuten Eagles 8-4 at Sapporo Dome.