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Kikuchi shackles Tigers

by David Hueston and Dave Hueston

Kyodo

Yusei Kikuchi was nearly untouchable with his heater over eight strong innings as the Seibu Lions defeated the Hanshin Tigers 5-1 in an interleague matchup on Monday.

The Lions roared in a five-run fourth to send Hanshin starter Jason Standridge to an early shower, and Pacific League ERA leader Kikuchi had another impressive outing to help his team snap a three-game losing streak.

Kikuchi (5-1), who has allowed just nine runs in eight starts, gave up one run — a solo homer to Ryota Arai in the seventh — and five hits, while striking out six and walking three. Ken Togame escaped a two-on jam with a game-ending double play in the ninth.

The Lions got their first chance but failed to capitalize in the bottom of the second at Seibu Dome.

Standridge loaded the bases with one out on a pair of singles and a walk, but the right-hander got Ginjiro Sumitani to fly out to right and induced Kyohei Nagae’s hard groundout to third to end the threat.

But things took a dreadful turn for Standridge in the fourth, when he walked Sumitani to put runners at first and second with two outs.

Nagae reached on a fielding error by first baseman Takahiro Arai, and Hideto Asamura, Shogo Akiyama and Takumi Kuriyama followed with consecutive RBI singles before the fifth run scored on the right-hander’s wild pitch with Jose Ortiz batting.

Standridge (3-4) yielded eight hits and five runs, none earned, in four innings, while walking two and striking out six.

On Wednesday, the Tigers travel to Chiba for two games against Lotte, while Seibu takes on Hiroshima in a two-game set at home.

Fighters 2, Giants 1

BayStars 4, Buffaloes 1

Eagles 3, Swallows 1

Marines 3, Carp 2

Hawks 10, Dragons 4