The Yokohama BayStars brought Chris Bootcheck to Japan to be a back-of-the bullpen reliever. The right-hander looked more like a frontline starter on Sunday.
Seiichi Uchikawa had three hits, including his fourth homer, and Bootcheck (1-0) went 6-1/3 innings in his first start in Japan, holding the Central League's front-running Yomiuri Giants to two runs in a 4-2 victory before 42,811 at Tokyo Dome.
The right-hander, who had a 6.00 ERA in 11 relief appearances, gave up eight hits with no walks, while fanning six to earn his first win.
The first-year import had one start on the farm before being tossed to the reigning Japan Series champions, who came in averaging more than five runs a game. But the 31-year-old kept the Giants off the scoreboard for the first six innings.
"In short-inning situations, he becomes a power pitcher and the batters can time him," said Yokohama skipper Takao Obana, the Giants ex-pitching coach.
"But if he pitches like this, where he's not rushing everything, his offspeed pitches and fastballs are tougher to distinguish," said Obana after his first managerial win at the Big Egg.
Bootcheck said he wanted to make things tough on the hard-hitting Giants.
"The game plan with a lot of their guys was to not let them dig in and not let them get comfortable and settled so they could get the momentum that makes them so good," said Bootcheck, who helped the BayStars stop a seven-game losing streak against the Giants.
"So we just pounded forkballs away, cutters in--we just had to mix it up," said Bootcheck, who wasn't sure whether his last outing as a starter was four or five years ago in the minors.
When asked if this was a spot start or a regular thing for Bootcheck, Obana replied: "We have a stretch of nine straight games in July, so if he pitches like this, it would be a welcome addition to the rotation."
Said Bootcheck: "I don't know. I like to compete. I just take the ball when they give it to me and try to do the best for the team."
He did his best work against hot-hitting Shinnosuke Abe, whom he fanned twice. The heart of the Giants' order went a combined 3-for-12--three singles and no RBIs.
Bootcheck left with one out in the seventh after Edgar Gonzalez just missed a homer, doubling in a pair of runs with a shot off the wall near the left-field foul pole.
Lefty Kosuke Kato came on to face pinch-hitter Michihiro Ogasawara, who had missed the previous three games with a bad back, and gave up an infield single off his chest.
Hiroki Sanada eventually got Yoshiyuki Kamei to escape the jam, and Shun Yamaguchi struck out four over two innings for his 16th save.
Taiwan 21-year-old righty Huang Chih-lung (0-1), signed off Yomiuri's developmental roster on June 4, didn't last long in his second pro start. He allowed four runs in three innings and was lifted for a pinch-hitter.
A day after Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara moved into fourth place on the team's all-time wins list with his 517th, Yomiuri's lineup fizzled.
The BayStars, meanwhile, broke through in the top of the third inning, thanks to Tatsuhiko Kinjo. The slumping outfielder--without a hit since June 10--lined a shot high off the wall to plate the first run.
"It was my first start in a while [since June 13] and I just wanted to focus on coming through in that chance because the guys ahead of me did well to create it," Kinjo said.
Kazuya Fujita followed by lining a shot through the box to plate Kinjo and Terrmel Sledge, who had walked, to give Yokohama a 3-0 cushion. Uchikawa homered off Masumi Hoshino to make it 4-0.
At Jingu Stadium, Josh Whitesell followed a homer in his debut game Saturday with a two-run triple to break up a tie in the fifth inning as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows won the rubber game against the Hanshin Tigers 8-2.
Ryoji Aikawa had two hits, including his sixth homer, and Jamie D'Antona hit his 11th longball for Yakult.
At Nagoya Dome, Justin Huber cracked his fifth homer, and drove in three in support of lefty Junpei Shinoda (2-1), who went seven innings as the Hiroshima Carp beat the Chunichi Dragons 6-4.
In Pacific League action at Sapporo Dome, Kensuke Tanaka collected four hits in a game for the fourth time this season and added two RBIs as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters routed the Chiba Lotte Marines 10-3.
Righty Bobby Keppel (10-1) held Lotte to two runs over 7 innings to win his ninth straight decision and match two others atop the PL with his 10th win.
At Seibu Dome, Takuya Hara's seventh-inning solo shot turned out to be the difference as the Saitama Seibu Lions got past the Orix Buffaloes 4-2.
Hsu Ming-chieh (5-4) got the win, scattering nine hits over 6-1/3 innings, and Brian Sikorski nailed down his PL-best 23rd save with a perfect ninth.
At Kleenex Stadium Miyagi, the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles' Kensuke Uchimura tied the score with a seventh-inning RBI single in a 12-inning, 1-1 tie with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.