TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. – Shogo Akiyama kept Seibu in first place Wednesday with a sayonara homer to lead off the ninth inning as the Lions defeated the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 2-1.
Akiyama was trying to set up the winning score for veteran No. 3 hitter Hiroyuki Nakajima, who had tied the game in the seventh with a leadoff homer, but the youngster never gave Nakajima a chance. Akiyama pounded a first-pitch breaking ball from Akihiro Yanase (0-1) over the fence in right to lift the Lions to victory at Seibu Dome.
“We’re aiming for the championship, so I’m overjoyed,” said the 24-year-old Lions outfielder. “I was just thinking about how to get on base for Nakajima. He’d had three hits, singles and extra-bases.”
The defending Pacific League champion Hawks opened the scoring in the second against southpaw Yusei Kikuchi. Wily Mo Pena led off with a double and came home to score on a ground out.
Kikuchi allowed seven hits and a walk, while striking out five in 8⅓ innings, but his teammates couldn’t make any real headway against Hawks starter Hiroki Yamada. The lefty had allowed just four singles and no walks before he hung a 1-0 breaking ball to Nakajima, who teed off on it for his 13th homer. Yamada allowed a run on six hits in eight innings.
The Hawks have scored just one run in six of their last seven games.
Buffaloes 2, Marines 0
At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, Orix lefty Yuji Maeda (1-0) scattered six hits over 5⅓ innings and four relievers pitched in to complete a seven-hit shutout of Chiba Lotte. It was Maeda’s first career start and first victory.
Takeshi Hidaka opened the scoring against Shingo Ono (2-3) with an RBI single in the fourth, and Aarom Baldiris singled in Orix’s other run in the fifth. The Marines fell below .500 for the first time this season.
Eagles 10, Fighters 5
At Tokyo Dome, Tohoku Rakuten’s Ryo Hijirisawa broke a 5-5 tie in the eighth inning as the Eagles pounded out six late runs against Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s bullpen. The Fighters’ loss knocked them 1½ games back of the league-leading Lions.
Trailing 5-4 the eighth, the Golden Eagles loaded the bases on singles by Kazuya Fujita and Jose Fernandez and a walk. An error by Fighters shortstop Makoto Kaneko let in the tying run. Hijirisawa and Akihisa Makita then delivered back-to-back RBI singles to make it 8-5.
Carp 2, Dragons 1
At Nagoya Dome, Hiroshima’s Kan Otake (11-3) matched his career high in wins by allowing no runs in 7⅓ innings as the Carp snapped a five-game losing streak against Chunichi.
Shota Dobayashi had three hits and drove in both of the Carp’s runs with a two-run double in the fourth inning off Enyelbert Soto (3-1), who allowed five hits and two walks over seven innings to take the loss.
Tigers 6, Giants 0
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Randy Messenger (7-10) threw a four-hit shutout and drove in a run as the Tigers snapped an 11-game winless streak against Yomiuri. The Tigers are 0-9 with two ties against the Giants since they last beat them on May 5.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the third inning with a single, two errors and a stolen base. With two outs, the Tigers’ last three hitters, Keiichi Hirano, Akihito Fujii and Messenger, each singled in a run as the Giants saw their five-game win streak come to a halt.
Swallows 3, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Tokyo Yakult came from a run down to beat Yokohama southpaw and former Swallow Shugo Fujii (7-5). A one-out, fourth-inning walk and a double by Lastings Milledge set up the tying run that scored on a groundout. Shinya Miyamoto followed with an RBI single.
Milledge plated a fifth-inning insurance run with his second double, and Orlando Roman (8-9) and two relievers made it stand up. Roman worked seven innings, while Tony Barnette worked the ninth for his 23rd save.