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Chono storms back

by John E. Gibson (Aug 14, 2011)

Hisayoshi Chono said he normally tries to leave the show of emotions to other players, but he couldn't help it on Saturday at Tokyo Dome.

The second-year player found himself celebrating at third base after his tiebreaking two-run triple in the eighth inning helped the Yomiuri Giants break away from the Hiroshima Carp in a 5-2 victory in front of 33,665.

Chono, who entered the game as the Central League's lone .300 batter, was back in the lineup for the first time in five games after being plunked in the head by Hiroshima's Takeru Imamura on Aug. 7.

He made his presence felt.

"He has a lot of things to overcome on his way to being a topflight player," Giants skipper Tatsunori Hara said. "Today was one of the situations I want to see him thrive in as he develops into a strong player.

"It was not only good for him personally, but this was good for the team to have him come up with a hit there."

Chono said he has no pain or residual effects from last week's blow to the head.

"The image of [being hit] is there, but that's about it," said Chono, who flew out twice and grounded out before driving a fastball deep to center over a drawn-in outfield.

He raced around to third and gave a fist pump he said was the result of pent-up energy.

"I usually don't do that kind of thing, but it just happened today. Even though I did it, it was a little one."

Chono helped boost Yomiuri out of a virtual tie with Hiroshima for third place.

The Giants had won seven straight against the Carp before falling 4-0 here on Friday night, but Hiroshima couldn't keep leadoff man Hayato Sakamoto off base.

He went 3-for-3 with a walk and started the winning rally in the eighth with a double inside third and down the line.

"He got on base every time and did a good job as a leadoff man," Hara said.

The Carp had taken a first-inning lead on Kenta Kurihara's two-out single the opposite way that make it 1-0.

"I got a fastball on the outer half that came back over the plate," Kurihara said. "I had it timed well and I was able to keep my swing nice and compact."

Shinnosuke Abe, batting eighth for the first time this season, got Giants starter Shun Tono off the hook with a two-run blast in the fifth inning. He connected with a man on for his 12th longball of the season to make it 2-2 after Yomiuri practically gave away a run in the top of the frame.

Tono had the kind of performance in the fifth inning that makes Hara gnash his teeth. He helped the Carp along, allowing a single before walking No. 8 batter Yoshikazu Kura on four pitches.

Carp starter Junpei Shinoda sacrificed the runners over before Tono issued a free pass to Akihiro Higashide to load the bases. Shogo Kimura then sent a fly to medium center and Chono fired home but his throw was offline and the Carp had their second run.

Tono escaped further damage after Michihiro Ogasawara wrestled Jun Hirose's hot-corner smash to the ground and fired to first for the out.

Abe shared responsibility for the walks that led to the fifth-inning run.

"That was a mistake by the battery," Abe said.

"[At the plate] I was looking for something I could pull and I was able to get the job done on that pitch. I was glad to get us back on even terms."

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Sugiuchi blanks Fighters

Toshiya Sugiuchi didn't allow a runner to reach second base, firing a two-hitter as the front-running Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks shut out the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 4-0 in a Pacific League showdown at Sapporo Dome.

It was the third shutout this season for Sugiuchi (7-3), who fanned 11 to move past Nippon Ham's Yu Darvish for most double-digit career strikeout games of any active player with 48. It was Sugiuchi's 17th career shutout.


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