SAPPORO – Yu Darvish struck out 14 en route to his fifth shutout of the season as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 4-0 on Friday.
Darvish (15-3) became the first 15-game winner in Japan this season after scattering five hits, all singles, and walking two in a 126-pitch outing at Sapporo Dome.
The 24-year-old right-hander has reached 15 wins for the fourth time in five seasons.
The second-place Fighters took the opener of the three-game series and pulled within 2½ games of the Hawks in the Pacific League standings.
Nippon Ham got on the board in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by cleanup hitter Sho Nakata.
Yang Dai-kang made it 3-0 in the sixth when he delivered a two-run single, his third hit of the night. Softbank second baseman Yuichi Honda’s eighth-inning error allowed the game’s final run to score.
Hawks left-hander Hiroki Yamada (7-6) was charged with one run and seven hits in 4⅔ innings.
Eagles 9, Marines 1
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Luis Garcia hit a three-run homer in the fourth and Kelvin Jimenez (1-5) allowed one run in 5⅔ innings as Tohoku Rakuten trounced Chiba Lotte to end a seven-game losing streak.
Takeshi Yamasaki and Ryo Hijirisawa drove in two runs apiece.
The Marines’ Yuki Karakawa (8-4) was roughed up for five runs in six innings.
Buffaloes 8, Lions 6
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Aarom Baldiris homered and drove in three runs as Orix beat Seibu to extend its unbeaten streak to seven games.
Shinya Nakayama (3-7) allowed three runs in 6⅔ innings in a winning effort. Takayuki Kishi (3-5) took the loss.
Tigers 4, Swallows 1
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Takahiro Arai hit a three-run home run in the third and Yasutomo Kubo (5-4) pitched seven innings of one-run ball, leading Hanshin over Tokyo Yakult.
Wladimir Balentien hit his CL-leading 20th homer, a solo shot in the seventh for the Swallows.
Kyuji Fujikawa struck out the side in the ninth for his 26th save.
Carp 4, Giants 0
At Tokyo Dome, Giancarlo Alvarado (2-4) went seven innings and combined with two relievers on a four-hit shutout as Hiroshima downed Yomiuri.
The Carp took a 3-0 lead in the second against Giants rookie Hirokazu Sawamura (5-9), pounding out four hits and sending nine batters to the plate.