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Limping away from history, Giants' Tono comes out of no-hitter after 6 innings; 3 relievers finish u

by Jim Allen (May 30, 2010)

Shun Tono limped away from his shot at history on Saturday.

Tono threw six hitless innings but took himself out of the game in the Yomiuri Giants' 4-0 interleague victory over the Saitama Seibu Lions at Seibu Dome.

"I had a little tightness in my [left] leg and thought the best thing was to take care of it," said Tono (8-1), who allowed three walks and struck out five.

"I felt it a little before the game, but figured there are trustworthy guys behind me [in the bullpen], so I could go six."

Tono had a two-run lead after four innings, but it barely survived his final inning. Hiroyuki Nakajima ended the bottom of that inning by driving a 3-1 fastball to the warning track with a man on.

Neither team had a hit until the third, when back-to-back two-out doubles by Yoshiyuki Kamei and Hayato Sakamoto opened the scoring against Lions lefty Kazuyuki Hoashi (6-3), who suffered his first day-game loss in seven decisions.

With his pitches up in the zone, Hoashi gave up his second homer of the season in the fourth, a one-out solo shot by Alex Ramirez. Shinnosuke Abe and Hisayoshi Chono belted back-to-back homers to open the seventh.

Giants manager Tatsunori Hara said that barring injury, Tono would have stayed out there until the Lions got a hit.

"If it weren't for those circumstances, there's no way I'm taking Tono out with a chance for a no-hitter," Hara said.

"The relievers did a great job of shutting them down considering they were under the pressure of not allowing the first hit."

That pressure disappeared in the eighth, when pinch-hitter Tatsuyuki Uemoto singled to lead off against Daisuke Ochi. It led to the Lions' only scoring chance, but that died with a base-running blunder by Uemoto.

A single by Yutaro Osaki and a lineout to third left runners on first and second with one out. With left-handed-hitting Takumi Kuriyama up, Hara pulled his right-hander for lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi.

Kuriyama, who hits lefties very well, drove one to left center. When center fielder Yoshiyuki Kamei caught it, Uemoto retreated to second, tagged up and feinted for third. The relay from shortstop Hayato Sakamoto caught the runner well off the bag for an inning-ending double play.

"Uemoto's bonehead play cost us our only chance," Seibu skipper Hisanobu Watanabe said. "He's got to do his job on the bases and he didn't."

Yamaguchi stayed in the game in the ninth, allowing only a single to Dee Brown before recording his first save.

Before a season-high crowd of 33,911, the Lions were frustrated by the movement on Tono's fastball and a slider that Watanabe called unique.

"Our timing was off against Tono," the skipper said. "I don't know if it was the movement on his fastball, but that slider is not one that another pitcher can throw."

Tono, who has not lost since his season debut on March 28, is expected to make his next start.

"I don't think it's anything that's going to stop him," Hara said. "He is really rising to the occasion as a starter. He pitched with a lot of confidence."

The Lions' loss trimmed their Pacific League lead over the Chiba Lotte Marines to 1-1/2 games.

In Chiba, Yuji Yoshimi (2-0) worked six scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over the Yokohama BayStars, the club that sold him to the Marines on May 10.

Toshiaki Imae doubled in two runs in the second inning and Saburo Omura and Kazuya Fukuura both homered for Lotte.

In Fukuoka, Tsuyoshi Wada (7-3) allowed a run in six innings as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks beat the Chunichi Dragons 4-2.

Roberto Petagine, the 2001 Central League MVP playing in Japan for the first time since 2004, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout in his Hawks debut.

In Sapporo, Hanshin right-hander Naoto Tsuru got the better of Yu Darvish in the Tigers' 4-2 victory over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

Tsuru (1-1), who last faced Darvish when the two pitched for rival youth teams nine years ago, allowed two runs in six innings. Darvish (4-4) surrendered four runs, three earned, in six.

The Fighters, last in the PL, still have the best record in interleague at 7-3.

The interleague games between the Orix Buffaloes and Tokyo Yakult Swallows in Osaka, and the Hiroshima Carp and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Sendai were played later Saturday.


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