Rather than trying to slow down Japanese baseball’s hottest offense, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks just lit a fire under their own bats.
Nobuhiko Matsunaka hit a pair of two-run homers to set the tone on a 13-hit night and the Hawks defeated the hot-hitting Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 10-5 on Tuesday at Tokyo Dome.
The win was the third straight for the Hawks, who ended Nippon Ham’s current win streak at five.
“The ball really flies out here at Tokyo Dome, doesn’t it?” joked Hawks manager Koji Akiyama after the game.
Matsunaka hit two-run shots in consecutive innings, finishing his night 2-for-2 with four RBIs. Munenori Kawasaki chipped in with a pair of RBIs, with a two-run triple the highlight of his night.
“It’s tough keeping Matsunaka down,” said Fighters outfielder Terrmel Sledge, who went 1-for-5 with a RBI in the loss. “He sparked them. Playing in this park, no lead is big enough.”
Yasushi Kamiuchi earned the win after pitching 1 2/3 innings in relief of starter Kameron Loe. The Softbank starter lasted 3 1/3, allowing four runs and striking out three.
“Our team got (the win),” Loe said. “So I’m real happy about that. It wasn’t my best performance out there. I struggled to get ahead of hitters, wasn’t throwing my changeup for strikes and they were all over my fastball.
“But as a team we played real well, put up a lot of runs and came out with a win.”
Fighters starter Kazuhito Tadano delighted the crowd with one of his popular eephus pitches during the fourth inning. But it came after he had given up four runs earlier in the frame which all but decided the outcome.
Tadano (1-2) took the loss after giving up seven runs on nine hits over four innings.
Softbank jumped out to an early advantage on an RBI single by Yuya Hasegawa in the first. The Fighters struck back in the bottom half, tying the score on a single from Terrmel Sledge.
The Fighters took the lead in the next frame after Yoshio Itoi drove in Shinya Tsuruoka from third with a double to right.
Matsunaka powered the Hawks back in front with the first of his two-run homers to make the score 3-2 in the third.
Two-out singles by Satoru Morimoto and Yuichi Honda put Softbank in business in the top of the fourth. Kawasaki drove in both runners with his triple, then came home on Matsunaka’s second homer as the Hawks took a 7-2 advantage.
The Fighters would not go quietly, however, scoring two runs on an Itoi double to trim the lead to three runs.
Pacific League batting leader Makoto Kaneko drove in a run in the fifth to pull Nippon Ham within two.
Hidenori Tanoue gave Softbank more breathing room with a three-run homer in the ninth to make it 10-5.
Lions rout Buffaloes
OSAKA (Kyodo) Takahiko G.G. Sato drove in four runs and Takayuki Kishi came within two outs of pitching a complete game as the Seibu Lions romped the Orix Buffaloes 7-1 at Kyocera Dome on Tuesday.
Sato keyed a four-run first with a two-run double to left-center and had a two-run bases-loaded single in the sixth. Kishi (3-0) scattered six hits, including a fourth-inning homer by Greg LaRocca.
Marines at Eagles — ppd.
Giants 4, Swallows 0
At Nagasaki’s Big N Stadium, Seth Greisinger pitched a three-hit shutout and fanned 11 batters to lead Yomiuri shutout over Tokyo Yakult.
Greisinger (3-1), who pitched a shutout for the first time since Sept. 4, 2007, retired the first 11 batters he faced before surrendering a single to Norichika Aoki in the fourth inning and putting away the next 11 in a row.
Dragons 2, Tigers 1
At Nagoya Dome, Kazuhiro Wada hit a go-ahead two-run double in the third inning, helping back Kenta Asakura, who limited the damage to one run in eight effective innings as Chunichi downed Hanshin to snap a four-game losing skid.
Takashi Toritani had an RBI grounder in the first before Wada doubled to left-center off Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi (1-2) with two out and runners at the corners in the third, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead.
Asakura (2-0) allowed two hits, struck out five and walked three. Hitoki Iwase worked the ninth for his third save.
Carp at BayStars — ppd.