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Fighters cage Lions for third straight victory

Kyodo

Masaru Takeda took a shutout into the seventh inning, Sho Nakata doubled in a much-needed insurance run in the eighth and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Seibu Lions 4-2 on Saturday.

Takeda (6-5) held the Lions to one run on two hits in 6⅓ innings at Seibu Dome in winning his fourth consecutive decision. The second-place Fighters have won three games in a row.

After Jose Fernandez’s pinch-hit two-run homer pulled Seibu within 3-2 in the seventh, Nippon Ham answered right back in the eighth with Nakata’s RBI double that chased Lions ace Hideaki Wakui (4-6).

“They got within a run in the seventh, so we want to score in that situation,” said the 22-year-old Nakata.

“I feel I’m getting my swing. I believe that’s why the ball off my bat has started finding a hole in the outfield like that. Kenshi (Sugiya) made a great effort, getting on base and stealing second to set the stage for me. I’m so glad I drove him home.”

Little-known Nippon Ham infielder Sugiya, batting second and playing second base, went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.

Wakui, the 2009 Sawamura Award winner, lost his fourth straight start after giving up four runs, three earned, and eight hits in 7⅓ innings.

Buffaloes 4, Hawks 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, backup catcher Fumihiro Suzuki singled in the game-winning run with one out in the ninth inning, lifting Orix over Fukuoka Softbank.

Brian Falkenborg (0-2) took the loss in relief of Toshiya Sugiuchi, who gave up three runs in eight innings. Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Yuya Hasegawa went deep for Softbank.

Marines 6, Eagles 3

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Toshiaki Imae hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning, Yoshifumi Okada had a pair of RBI singles among his three hits and Chiba Lotte downed Tohoku Rakuten.

Tomohisa Otani (1-3) allowed two runs in 7⅓ innings for the win. Ryohei Isaka (0-1) took the loss in his season debut. Randy Ruiz hit two homers for the Eagles.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Carp 6, Swallows 5

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Akihiro Higashide and Soichiro Amaya drove in two runs apiece as Hiroshima rallied from a 4-0 deficit to beat Yakult.

Higashide scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning on a groundout by Shogo Kimura. Hiroyasu Tanaka went 3-for-5 with three RBIs for Yakult.

Giants 2, Dragons 1

At Tokyo Dome, Hisayoshi Chono hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the eighth inning as Yomiuri edged Chunichi for its first win in five games.

Tetsuya Yamaguchi (1-0) won in relief. Taiwanese lefty Chen Wei-yin (2-6) took the loss after a complete-game effort.

Tigers 6, BayStars 4

At Nishinomiya’s Koshien Stadium, Takahiro Arai and Akihito Fujii each homered and drove in two runs as Hanshin handed Yokohama its third consecutive loss.

Randy Messenger (5-1) allowed three runs in five innings for the win. Kyuji Fujikawa picked up his CL-leading 17th save after giving up one run on three hits in the ninth.