TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. – Shuhei Fukuda hit his first career homer and singled in the go-ahead run as the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Seibu Lions 4-3 on Friday.
With the win, coupled with a loss by the second-place Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, the Hawks reduced their magic number to one for clinching the Pacific League title.
Fukuda homered off veteran Fumiya Nishiguchi (9-7) to pull Softbank within 3-1 in the fifth, the Hawks’ first hit of the night at Seibu Dome.
Two innings later, the 22-year-old outfielder put the team ahead 4-3 with an RBI single off reliever Atsushi Okamoto.
Kenji Otonari (3-0) allowed two hits and three runs in six innings. Takahiro Mahara picked up his 16th save.
The Lions took a 3-0 lead in the fourth when Takeya Nakamura followed a Hiroyuki Nakajima RBI double with a two-run drive to right-center, his baseball-leading 44th home run of the season.
For Softbank, Yuichi Honda hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth and Yuya Hasegawa had a run-scoring single in the seventh before Fukuda’s tiebreaking single.
Marines 5, Fighters 4
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Katsuya Kakunaka delivered a sayonara single with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, his third hit of the night, as Chiba Lotte downed Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Fighters closer Hisashi Takeda (2-2) only recorded one out in the ninth while giving up two hits and issuing two walks.
Rookie Yuki Saito held the Marines to two runs in five innings and left with the team leading 4-2.
Buffaloes 2, Eagles 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Chihiro Kaneko outpitched Hisashi Iwakuma to reach double-digit wins for the fourth consecutive year as Orix beat Tohoku Rakuten.
Kaneko (10-3) allowed just four hits in his fifth complete game of the season. Mitsutaka Goto broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth with an RBI single off Iwakuma (6-6).
Tigers 3, Dragons 1
At Koshien Stadium, Takahiro Arai and Craig Brazell hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning as Hanshin beat Chunichi to halt a four-game slide.
Brazell followed Arai’s two-run shot with a drive of his own off Maximo Nelson (8-14). Minoru Iwata (8-12) pitched seven innings of one-run ball and Kyuji Fujikawa threw a perfect ninth for his 35th save.
BayStars 5, Swallows 0
At Yokohama Stadium, Daisuke Miura (4-4) pitched eight shutout innings as Yokohama ended Tokyo Yakult’s winning streak at four games.
Shuichi Murata and Keijiro Matsumoto drove in two runs apiece.
The Swallows’ Tatsuyoshi Masubuchi (7-9) took the loss.