SAPPORO – Rookie Yuki Saito hobbled out of his fourth start for Hokkaido Nippon Ham as the Fighters lost 4-2 to the Softbank Hawks on Sunday.
Saito, who is 2-0 so far this season, was replaced after the first inning with pain in his left abdomen. He stayed at Sapporo Dome to receive treatment after being relieved by Kazuhito Tadano.
Saito had a 1-2-3 inning, retiring the side on 10 pitches. Hirotoshi Masui suffered his first loss of the year after allowing two runs in the ninth on veteran Hiroki Kokubo’s two-RBI double.
Masahiko Morifuku pitched the eighth to improve to 3-0, and Brian Falkenborg picked up a save for the fourth straight game, his fifth on the season.
Softbank starter Tadashi Settsu (2-1) turned in a quality start, holding Nippon Ham to two earned runs on seven hits over seven innings.
Settsu struck out eight, but gave up a solo home run in the fourth to Micah Hoffpauir who went yard for a Pacific League-leading seventh time.
The Hawks moved back into a first-place tie with the Fighters.
Buffaloes 4, Marines 3
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Orix’s Yuki Nishi improved to 4-0 after limiting Japan Series champion Chiba Lotte to three runs in seven innings and halting the Buffaloes’ skid at two games.
Takahiro Okada hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Lotte’s Atsuhiro Mitsuhara, who now has lost all three starts this season.
Lions 4, Eagles 1
At Kleenex Stadium, Seibu swept the three-game series against Tohoku Rakuten as Kazuyuki Hoashi (2-1) scattered four hits over eight innings, allowing the only run on a home run to Toshiya Nakashima in the sixth.
Dragons 6, Giants 0
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi rocked Carlos Torres (0-1) for six runs in less than five innings, keeping the new Yomiuri right-hander winless in Japan.
BayStars 3, Tigers 2
At Niigata’s Hard Off Stadium, Yuki Yoshimura’s second career walkoff homer capped Yokohama’s three-game sweep of Hanshin.
BayStars closer Shun Yamaguchi won his first game of the season after pitching a perfect ninth. He has yet to allow a run in 8 2/3 innings in 2011.
Swallows 3, Carp 3
At Matsuyama Stadium, Yakult and Hiroshima continued to share the CL lead after Tomohiro Umetsu’s wild pitch in the seventh allowed the Swallows to make it a 3-3 game.
The two teams played to a tie for the second time this season.