Shinji Kurano allowed one run in 72/3 innings and Kenji Jojima doubled in a pair of runs as the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks retained the lead in the Pacific League with a 4-1 victory over the Nippon Ham Fighters at the Tokyo Dome on Tuesday night.
With the win, the Hawks stayed one game ahead of the Kintetsu Buffaloes in the PL standings.
Daiei put three runs on the board in the top of the third inning, capitalizing on an error by Nippon Ham second baseman Makoto Kaneko.
With one out, Hiroki Kokubo doubled off Fighters southpaw starter Akio Shimizu and Nobuhiko Matsunaka was hit by a pitch, bringing up veteran Koji Akiyama.
Akiyama hit what should have been an inning-ending double play ball to Kaneko, but the infielder mishandled it, and suddenly the bases were full with Jojima at the plate. Jojima promptly smashed a double up the left-field alley that one-hopped the wall, scoring Kokubo and Matsunaka.
The throw in from the outfield was cut off and as Jojima cruised into second, the 39-year-old Akiyama scampered home to give the Hawks a 3-0 lead.
Kurano (3-3) gave up six hits, struck out three and walked two on the way to victory.
Rodney Pedraza worked a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 31st save.
The Hawks narrowly avoided a disaster in the bottom of the fifth inning when Jojima was injured on a freak play.
With two outs and Nippon Ham’s Tatsuya Ide at the plate with a runner on first, Ide hit a pop up just in front of home plate that Jojima appeared in position to field, however, just as he was about to make the play he was bowled over by Kurano, who rushed in to make the catch, smashing his left arm into Jojima’s nose in the process.
Jojima collapsed on the turf, writhing in pain and was stretchered off, but after several minutes of attention from the team’s medical staff, returned to the field.
Akiyama added a run for the Hawks in the top of the sixth, when he turned on a breaking ball from Shimizu and slammed a solo homer into the left-center field seats.
Kurano lost the shutout with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, when he surrendered a solo shot to designated hitter Yukio Tanaka.
Shimizu (2-6) allowed three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings and took the loss. He struck out six, walked two batters and hit one.
‘Wave drowns Lions
George Arias drilled a come-from-behind, “sayonara” three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Seibu closer Kiyoshi Toyoda (5-3) as the Orix BlueWave beat the Lions 4-3 at Green Stadium Kobe on Tuesday.
Rookie hurler Masanobu Okubo got one out for his sixth win of the year.
Buffaloes 6, Marines 3
Kenshi Kawaguchi homered in consecutive at-bats and drove home four runs as Kintetsu came from behind to beat Lotte at Chiba Marines Stadium, ending the Marines’ win streak at four.
Swallows 9, Dragons 9 (12)
Yault scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and both teams failed to score the rest of the way as the game ended a draw after 12 innings at Jingu.
Giants 4, Tigers 2
Yusaku Iriki pitched 81/3 solid innings and closer Hideki Okajima got the final two outs for his 24th save as Yomiuri beat Hanshin at Koshien Stadium.
Iriki gave a two-run homer in the ninth inning to Shinjiro Hiyama, five hits altogether, and walked three for his 11th win.
Yomiuri scored a run in the third with a solo blast by rookie catcher Shinnosuke Abe off Hanshin starter Buddy Carlyle (6-10).
In the seventh, Toshihisa Nishi connected for an RBI singled with two outs and bases loaded before Takayuki Shimizu singled home two more runs.
Carp 2, BayStars 1
Kenjiro Nomura drew a bases-loaded “sayonara” walk in the bottom of the ninth inning as Hiroshima edged Yokohama in a tight pitchers’ duel at Hiroshima Stadium.
Carp starter Hiroki Kuroda went the distance, giving up five hits while striking out seven for his eighth win as Hiroshima won its fifth straight — its longest win streak this year.