OSAKA – Kevin Mench hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning Tuesday as the Hanshin Tigers rallied past the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 3-2 in a preseason game.
Mench, who signed with Hanshin this offseason from the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year contract, went deep off Yachiho Hoshino to left with runners on first and second and none out in the eighth, turning a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead at Skymark Stadium.
Yasutomo Kubo pitched three scoreless innings in relief, allowing two hits, no walks and striking out two. Nippon Ham rookie right-hander Ryo Sakakibara threw five hitless frames, yielding no runs with four strikeouts, in his first start of the spring.
In other action, Atsushi Fujii drove in four runs, featuring a two-run drive, in a 2-for-3 outing as the Chunichi Dragons edged the Seibu Lions 9-8 in a game at Kariya Stadium.
Chunichi starter Kenichi Nakata struggled to contain his wildness, allowing three runs — two earned — with five walks and five strikeouts in five innings. Takeya Nakamura homered in his second consecutive game for Seibu.
Lions veteran lefty Kazuhisa Ishii got rocked for six runs in three innings.
At Shunan Municipal Stadium, Kenta Kurihara hit a two-run shot and had a sacrifice fly and the Hiroshima Carp powered past the Yomiuri Giants 9-6, scoring six runs in the final four innings.
Kan Otake and left-hander Junpei Shinoda, who are vying for spots in the starting rotation, both surrendered three runs pitching two innings apiece. South Korean slugger Lee Seung Yeop had three hits, featuring a two-run homer for Yomiuri.
Catcher Hiroaki Takaya drove in four runs, highlighting a six-run second with a three-run blast, in the Softbank Hawks’ 10-3 rout of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. Nobuhiro Matsuda homered and went 2-for-4.
Rookie left-hander Katsuki Akagawa got tagged for nine runs and six hits, walking seven in 1 2/3 shaky innings at Jingu Stadium.
The Rakuten Eagles played the Orix Buffaloes to a 4-4 tie at Himeji Stadium, while the Yokohama BayStars drew 5-5 against the Chiba Lotte Marines in Chiba.