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Hawks close gap on Fighters

Kyodo

Nobuhiro Matsuda and Yuichi Honda each went 2-for-3 with an RBI on Sunday as the second-place Softbank Hawks edged the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 4-3 to move within two games of the Pacific League leaders.

News photoSoftbank Hawks third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda scores on Yuichi Honda’s bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth inning against Nippon Ham Fighters on Sunday at Yahoo Dome. The Hawks won 4-3.
KYODO PHOTO

Matsuda broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI ground-rule double off Tomoya Yagi (3-5) in the fourth inning and Honda hit a sacrifice fly to increase Softbank’s lead to 4-2 in the sixth at Yahoo Dome.

Akihiro Yanase (4-1) threw two scoreless innings in relief of Rick Guttormson. Takahiro Mahara earned his league-leading 36th save.

Atsunori Inaba drove in two runs with a sacrifice fly and a double for Nippon Ham, which lost for the first time in three games.

Lions 4, Eagles 2

At Goodwill Dome, Hiroyuki Nakajima drove in three runs to lift Seibu over Tohoku Rakuten for its first win in three games.

Nakajima hit an RBI single in the second inning and a two-run double to put Seibu ahead 3-2 before Takeya Nakamura followed with a single, the last of four straight two-out hits, to cap a three-run eighth.

Minoru Yamagishi (2-2) won in relief while Alex Graman picked up his 14th save. Koki Watanabe (3-4) took the loss as Rakuten’s winning streak ended at three games.

Marines 7, Buffaloes 6 (10)

At Kyocera Dome, Tomoya Satozaki hit a tiebreaking two-run homer with one out in the 10th inning, lifting Chiba Lotte past Orix in a game at Kyocera Dome.

Satozaki, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, went deep to left off Daisuke Kato (3-4) and Masahide Kobayashi allowed a run in the bottom half but escaped for his 26th save. Yusuke Kawasaki (2-2) won in relief.

Lotte took a 4-1 lead in a three-run sixth but Tuffy Rhodes had a two-single in the eighth and Hirotoshi Kitagawa followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly to give Orix a 5-4 lead before Lotte rallied on Benny Agbayani’s pinch-hit RBI single one inning later.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 7, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Kenichi Nakata struck out 11 in eight shutout innings and helped his own cause with an RBI single as Chunichi routed Hanshin. Nakata (13-7) escaped one-out bases-loaded jams in the fourth and eighth innings. The right-hander allowed six hits — all singles — and five walks.

Chunichi took a 2-0 lead on a Motonobu Tanishige sacrifice fly in the second and Nakata’s clutch hit in the fourth. The Dragons put the game out of reach with a five-run ninth, sending 10 batters to the plate. Shinobu Fukuhara (2-7) was charged with two runs and seven hits in four innings.

Hanshin slipped into second behind the Yomiuri Giants.

BayStars 8, Swallows 4

At Yokohama Stadium, Kazunari Tsuruoka hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the fourth inning and Takahiro Saeki also drove in two runs, leading Yokohama over Tokyo Yakult.

Yokohama went ahead 4-2 when Tsuruoka singled to center with one out and runners on second and third. Saeki added a two-run single off Kenichi Matsuoka (3-2) in the fifth, pushing the BayStars’ lead to 6-3.

Giants 9, Carp 0

At Tokyo Dome, Yoshinobu Takahashi drove in four runs with two clutch doubles and Yomiuri pounded Hiroshima en route to returning to first place in the Central League standings.

Michihiro Ogasawara got things rolling with a two-run blast in the first and Takahashi’s bases-clearing double capped a four-run sixth to make it 7-0.