Shunsuke Watanabe made himself at home on the mound at windy Jingu Stadium on Wednesday night.
Used to pitching in the gusting winds at his home park on the Chiba bayside, the submarine righty allowed three singles and a walk over seven innings and drove in a run as the Chiba Lotte Marines beat the Tokyo Yakult Swallows 6-0.
“It’s the best I’ve pitched all year,” said Watanabe, who won for the first time since May 9. “I’m used to the wind, although I don’t know this park well. I just concentrated as best I could.”
Katsuya Kakunaka broke the ice in the top of the first after Swallows starter Shohei Tateyama (4-5) retired the first two batters. A walk and a single set the table for Kakunaka, who entered the game batting .329 in interleague play. The left-handed batter smacked a 2-2 forkball into center to give Watanabe the lead.
Shunichi Nemoto widened the lead in the fifth with his second homer of the season and his second in two games. With two out in the sixth, Watanabe took advantage of his chance to bat by driving in Kakunaka for the first run of his career with a single. The Marines’ second run scored on a throwing error by Swallows center fielder Lastings Milledge.
“I don’t really like batting,” Watanabe said. “It was dumb luck.”
Kakunaka, who went 3-for-4, also singled home a run in the seventh.
The victory increased Lotte’s lead in the Pacific League to 1 1/2 games over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Despite a Central League team winning the interleague title for the first time since the competition starting in 2005, the PL won the season series from the CL, 67-66. There were 11 ties.
BayStars 6, Eagles 2
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Yokohama opened the scoring on back-to-back, fourth-inning doubles by veterans Norihiro Nakamura and Alex Ramirez, while leadoff man Sho Aranami went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in a win over Tohoku Rakuten.
Lefty Shugo Fujii (2-2) allowed a run in 5 1/3 innings to earn the victory, while the BayStars flailed right-hander Manabu Mima (4-2) for five runs on 10 hits in five innings.