FUKUOKA – Julio Zuleta homered and Tsuyoshi Wada took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Wednesday, lifting the front-running Softbank Hawks to a 1-0 shutout of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Zuleta connected off Yusaku Iriki (6-6) in the second for what proved to be the game winner with his 38th homer of the season as the Hawks moved a season-high 43 games over .500 and kept their five-game lead over the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Pacific League standings.
Wada (11-7) held Nippon Ham hitless until he allowed a seventh-inning leadoff single to Michihiro Ogasawara at Yahoo Dome. The southpaw left after 7 2/3 innings, giving up three hits while striking out 11 and walking four in winning his first decision since Aug. 3.
The Hawks bullpen held on, with Takahiro Mahara picking up his 19th save after getting the final two outs.
Marines 6, Buffaloes 4
At Skymark Stadium, Tasuku Hashimoto hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Dan Serafini became Lotte’s fourth 10-game winner as the Marines extended their winning streak against Orix to eight games.
Koichi Hori hit an RBI grounder in a two-run second and Toshiaki Imae added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to make it 6-1 before Orix pulled within two runs in the bottom half on three consecutive RBI singles by Eiji Mizuguchi, Makoto Shiozaki and Hirotoshi Kitagawa.
BayStars 5, Dragons 2
At Nagoya Dome, the Hanshin Tigers got the magic number to clinch the Central League title after Yokohama beat second-place Chunichi.
Hitoshi Taneda ignited the offense with a two-run double in the second inning and Daisuke Miura (9-8) pitched eight strong innings as Yokohama handed Chunichi its fifth loss in six games, giving the idle Tigers the magic number of 13.
Swallows 8, Carp 2
At Jingu Stadium, Shohei Tateyama threw seven sharp innings and eight of Yakult’s nine starters hit safely in a rout of Hiroshima.
Mitsuru Manaka gave Yakult the lead for good with a bases-loaded single off Tom Davey (5-5) in the first inning and Shinya Miyamoto delivered run-scoring singles in the fourth and sixth.