FUKUOKA – Give the Japan Series champions an opening, and they’ll find a way to win.
Yuichi Honda had a bases-clearing double in the seventh inning, rallying the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks past the Orix Buffaloes en route to a 5-2 victory for their second straight win in the season-opening series on Saturday.
Orix got rolling in the second when Takahiro Okada hit a one-out double to left, and Aarom Baldiris followed with a single up the middle to bring home Okada for a 1-0 lead at Yahoo Dome.
But Orix lefty Shinya Nakayama’s control issues began in the fourth and gradually worsened.
Kenji Akashi led off with a bloop single to center and proceeded to steal second. Seiichi Uchikawa grounded out in the next at-bat, but first baseman Lee Dae Ho’s throw to third on an attempted double play went over the head of third baseman Baldiris to tie it 1-1.
The Buffaloes took the lead again in the sixth when Mitsutaka Goto doubled to right-center and came home from third one out later on Shinji Takahashi’s single, making it 2-1.
But Nakayama was done after six, and reliever Hsu Ming-chieh’s problems proved fatal as he loaded the bases on two hits and a walk in the seventh, setting the stage for Honda’s heroics.
Honda drilled a full-count pitch off Hsu (0-1) deep to right to bring his teammates around, causing the Hawks’ bench to break out in wild celebration.
Softbank starter Sho Iwasaki (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits in seven strong innings for the win.
Fighters win in ninth
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to rally to a victory over the Seibu Lions on Saturday at Sapporo Dome.
Eiichi Koyano drew a walk to begin the ninth and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Daikan Yoh.
Pinch hitter Tomohiro Nioka followed with a hit and Manabu Iwadate drove in the tying run with an RBI single.
Team captain Kensuke Tanaka drove in the winning run with a single to right.
Fighters pitcher Hirotoshi Masui picked up the win in relief.
Marines 5, Eagles 3
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Shoitsu Omatsu and Tomoya Satozaki each drove in a run to put Chiba Lotte ahead for good in the fourth.
Swallows 6, Giants 3
At Tokyo Dome, Hiroyasu Tanaka hit a two-run homer in the sixth and finished with three RBIs as Yakult beat Yomiuri for the second straight day.
Dragons 9, Carp 0
At Nagoya Dome, Kenshin Kawakami was victorious in his return to Japan, striking out five over six scoreless innings as Chunichi routed Hiroshima.
Tigers 3, BayStars 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Takahiro Arai’s two-run double in the sixth inning gave Hanshin a lead it would not relinquish.