SENDAI – Sho Nakata hit a two-run homer and drove in all fours runs as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters completed a four-game sweep with a 4-2 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Monday night.
With a runner on second and two outs, Nakata connected to left-center for a drive off Takahiro Shiomi (4-6), his 12th homer of the year to give the surging Fighters a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
The second-place Fighters moved within 3.5 games of the idle Softbank Hawks. Rakuten lost its fourth in a row and fell a season-worst eight games below .500.
Nakata added a two-run double in the fifth after Rakuten cut its deficit to 2-1 in the third. Yosuke Takasu had a run-scoring single in the bottom of the fifth but Rakuten’s rally came up short.
Fighters rookie starter Yuki Saito struggled with control issues, departing after allowing two runs and five hits in 4⅓ innings. He struck out five and walked five. Yuya Ishii (1-0) got the win in relief.