CHIBA – Masaru Takeda gave the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters everything he had. In the ninth inning, they finally gave him a helping hand.
Takeda threw a four-hit shutout and the Fighters scored runs in four consecutive at-bats during the ninth inning in a 4-0 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Saturday at QVC Marine Field.
“I was throwing with all my might,” Takeda said. “I wasn’t thinking about anything, I was just following (catcher Shota) Ono’s lead and taking it one batter at a time.”
Takeda (1-0) went the distance on 104 pitches and struck out four without allowing a walk.
Lotte starter Yuki Karakawa (1-1) held up his end of the pitcher’s duel for over eight innings, but ran out of luck in the ninth. Karakawa was charged with four runs in 8⅓ innings. He gave up six hits, struck out six and walked two — one intentionally.
Karakawa kept the Fighters off-balance and off the scoreboard until it all fell apart in the ninth.
Fighters outfielder Yoshio Itoi began the frame with a single up the middle. Eiichi Koyano tried to bunt Itoi to second, but Karakawa was able to field the ball cleanly and nail the lead runner.
Kensuke Tanaka’s single into left put runners on first and second. Sho Nakata followed with a seven-pitch at-bat against Karakawa that ended with him drawing a walk to load the bases.
“That was really good in that spot,” Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama said.
Atsunori Inaba then drove in the game’s first run with an RBI single that was also the 1,977th hit of his career.
Daikan Yoh and pinch hitter Tomihiro Nioka recorded RBI singles in Nippon Ham’s next two at-bats, and Ono was hit with a pitch which allowed another run to score and gave the Fighters a 4-0 lead.
“That gave us some security,” Kuriyama said.
Takeda retired the side in order in the ninth to seal the victory.
The Fighters were held without an extra-base hit, with seven players combining for the team’s seven hits. Ono, shortstop Takuya Nakashima and outfielder Terrmel Sledge were the only members of the starting lineup to finish hitless.
Lotte catcher Tomoya Satozaki finished 2-for-4 and was the only player on his team with a multi-hit afternoon.
The Fighters have now won three straight, while the Marines lost their second consecutive game.
The two teams will meet for the final game of their early-season series on Sunday in Chiba.
First-round draft pick Takahiro Fujioka (1-0) will be making his home debut for the Marines, while Mitsuo Yoshikawa (0-1) is scheduled to take the hill for the Fighters.
Pena powers Hawks
Wily Mo Pena drove in two runs and Sho Iwasaki (2-0) held Seibu to two runs in 6⅓ innings as Fukuoka Softbank downed the Lions 4-3 to pick up their third straight win on Saturday.
Pena hit a tiebreaking sac fly in the seventh off losing pitcher Hideaki Wakui (0-2).
Seibu’s Hiroyuki Nakajima and the Hawks’ Hiroki Kokubo each hit solo homers in the fourth and fifth, respectively.
Eagles 3, Buffaloes 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, starter Kelvin Jimenez threw 7⅔ solid innings as Tohoku Rakuten edged Orix.
Jimenez (1-1) allowed two runs and seven hits without a walk.
Jose Fernandez broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth with a two-out RBI single off Shinya Nakayama (0-1).
Swallows 2, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, Lastings Milledge and Wladimir Balentien both homered and Tokyo Yakult edged Chunichi.
Kazuhiro Wada had an RBI double in the second inning for the Dragons. Wada went 3-for-4 in the loss.
Carp 1, BayStars 0
At Yokohama Stadium, Hiroshima dealt the BayStars their fourth straight defeat with a bases loaded walk with two outs in the ninth inning.
Yokohama has been shut out in all four of the defeats and its scoreless streak is now at 38 innings.
Carp starter Bryan Bullington struck out 10 batters in eight innings.