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Baseball: Swallows rookie Okugawa cuts Giants down to size

Yasunobu Okugawa of the Yakult Swallows pitches during a Central League game against the Yomiuri Giants on Sept. 17, 2021, at Tokyo Dome. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Rookie Yasunobu Okugawa allowed a run over seven innings, and the second-place Yakult Swallows hit three home runs in an 8-2 win over the defending Central League champion Yomiuri Giants on Friday.

    The win at Tokyo Dome moved the Swallows to within two games of the Hanshin Tigers, and pushed them one game ahead of the third-place Giants.

    Okugawa (7-3) allowed five hits and hit a batter while striking out five in a 103-pitch effort. He surrendered a run in the home half of the first on two hits and a hit batsman but avoided further damage despite having two runners on with no outs.

    The Swallows tied it 1-1 on a sacrifice fly in the second against lefty Yuki Takahashi (10-5) after loading the bases with one out.

    Domingo Santana put Yakult in front for good in the fourth with a two-run home run, his 12th. Tetsuto Yamada's 28th home run made it 4-1 in the fifth, and Yasutaka Shiomi iced the game with an eighth-inning grand slam, his 11th homer of the season.

    "This was the first of 10 games straight for us so I wanted to do well," Okugawa said. "I gave up the first run, and put us in a hole, but the batters put runs on the board and I was able to find my feet."

    "By not walking batters in tough spots, I was able to prevent rallies. This is the first time I've thrown 100 pitches in a game, and I want to be able to do that more often."

    Two other CL games scheduled for Friday, both in western Japan, were postponed due to the approach of Typhoon Chanthu.

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