SAPPORO – Micah Hoffpauir hit a grand slam off Doug Mathis (0-2) in the third inning, and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters held on for a 5-4 win Saturday despite a rally from the Chiba Lotte Marines, who lost their fourth straight game.
Kazuhito Tadano (5-3) gave up four runs, only one earned, and six hits in five-plus innings. The Marines, who had been in first place from May 11 to July 29, dropped to fourth, four games back of the Fighters.
Lions 6, Eagles 5
At Seibu Dome, Seibu’s Takeya Nakamura broke a 1-1 tie when he led off the fourth inning with his 18th home run, and the Lions added two more the same inning on Ginjiro Sumitani’s two-run single and held off Tohoku Rakuten.
Shogo Akiyama’s two-run single in the sixth allowed the Lions to overcome a three-run, seventh-inning homer by former Seibu star Kazuo Matsui and secure the win for Kazuhisa Ishii (8-4). The southpaw allowed three runs in six-plus innings.
Hawks 4, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Seiichi Uchikawa drove in Yuichi Honda three times as the pair collected seven of Fukuoka’s Softbank’s eight hits, and lefty Kenji Otonari (11-4) allowed a run in eight innings as the Hawks beat Orix for their fourth straight victory.
Otonari, who moved into a tie for the league lead in wins, allowed four hits and struck out nine without walking a batter. Former major leaguer Hideki Okajima worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his first save in Japan since 2006.
Giants 4, Carp 0
At Tokyo Dome, Shuichi Murata broke a scoreless deadlock with an RBI double in the eighth inning and pinch hitter Yoshitomo Tani ripped a bases-loaded, three-run double for the finishing touch as Yomiuri blanked Hiroshima.
Murata, who joined the Giants this year as a free agent from weak-link Yokohama, had hit into five double plays in the previous seven games and on Friday had been dropped down to sixth in the Giants’ batting order.
“I had been putting a lot of pressure on myself,” he said. “Having other teams chasing us is a new experience for me. I’m learning things each and every day.”
The Central League-leading Giants shut out the Carp for the second day in a row at Tokyo Dome after a 5-0 mauling on Friday. D.J. Houlton struck out 11 on two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings and Tetsuya Yamaguchi (1-2) got the win in relief.
Murata doubled to deep center with one out and runners at the corners, and after an intentional walk to pinch hitter Kenji Yano and a flyout in foul territory by Shigeyuki Furuki, Tani hit a ball off Takeru Imamura (1-1) into the gap in right-center to clear the bases.
Dragons 4, BayStars 3
At Nagoya Dome, Masahiko Morino opened the scoring with a two-run home run in the first inning off Yuki Kuniyoshi (2-8), and Chunichi starter Shinji Iwata helped his own cause with a run-scoring triple in the second as the Dragons held off Yokohama to win their fourth in a row.
Hirokazu Ibata added insurance with an eighth-inning RBI double before Randy Ruiz brought the BayStars within one with a two-run single in the ninth. Iwata (5-3) allowed one run and five hits over seven innings.
Swallows 1, Tigers 0
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yakult right-hander Shohei Tateyama (7-8) scattered five hits and a walk over eight innings to beat Hanshin, and Tony Barnette pitched the ninth to complete the six-hit shutout.
Hiroyasu Tanaka had three of the Swallows’ 10 hits and plated Kazuhiro Hatakeyama in the sixth for the game’s only run.
The Tigers’ Randy Messenger (6-10) allowed a run in six innings to take the loss.