Baseball: Joe Gunkel, 3 relievers combined as Tigers shut out BayStars

Hanshin Tigers’ Joe Gunkel throws against DeNA BayStars during their Central League match at Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, western Japan on July 24, 2022. (Kyodo)

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo (Kyodo) — Joe Gunkel allowed six singles in six innings and three relievers completed the shutout as the Hanshin Tigers beat the DeNA BayStars 1-0 on Sunday to enter the All-Star break in a tie for the second in the Central League.

Gunkel (5-5), who got big plays from his defensemen, struck out four batters without walking, and Yusuke Oyama scored the game’s only run with a sacrificial fly in the fourth inning against the BayStars starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi (4-4) .

“I wanted to be aggressive like I was, throwing shots, getting down in the area and putting the ball on the ground. And we managed to get out of some traffic jams,” Gunkel said.

“We had situations with runners on base, but the defense made plays in front of them.”

Masumi Hamachi hit the team in the seventh before setter Atsuki Yuasa and closest Suguru Iwazaki each finished with a scoreless inning. Iwazaki made his 22nd save.

The Tigers’ third straight win lifted them to .500 and tied for second place with the Hiroshima Carp, who lost 4-2 to the league-leading Yakult Swallows.

In the Pacific League, the Orix Buffaloes beat the league-leading SoftBank Hawks 7-4, the latest Nippon Ham Fighters snapped a six-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the Lotte Marines , and the Rakuten Eagles beat the Seibu Lions 9-2.

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