SAPPORO – Right-hander Brain Wolfe pitched seven scoreless innings, Eiichi Koyano and Shota Ono both had RBI doubles, and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 4-2 to regain first place in the Pacific League on Saturday.
Nippon Ham moved a season-high 12 games above .500.
Wolfe (9-9) struck out five and walked none before handing the game over to lefty reliever Yuya Ishii. Hisashi Takeda got the final two outs for his PL-leading 26th save.
The Fighters, who moved a half game ahead of the second-place Seibu Lions, scored two runs on Koyano’s double down the left field line and Yang Yao-hsun’s (2-2) wild pitch in the second inning at Sapporo Dome.
“We were able to win today in the way we’re used to. I am being given chances to hit in situations I know I can come through for our team,” said Koyano.
Hitoshi Tamura and Yuya Hasegawa hit back-to-back RBI singles in the ninth, but it was too little, too late for the Hawks, who lost their third in a row.
Marines 5, Lions 4
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Ikuhiro Kiyota had a sacrifice fly to get Chiba Lotte within one with one out in the seventh inning and Saburo Omura overturned a 4-3 deficit with a two-out two-run double the same inning off Randy Williams (3-3) as the hosts rallied past Seibu.
Reliever Taiki Nakago (2-1) pitched two innings of one-run ball for the win and Yasuhiko Yabuta had a 1-2-3 ninth for his 23rd save. Seibu’s Takeya Nakamura hit a solo shot for his PL-leading 24th home run, but Seibu slipped into second place.
Eagles 3, Buffaloes 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Luis Garcia’s tiebreaking run-scoring double gave Tohoku Rakuten the lead for good in the fifth inning as the Golden Eagles held off Orix.
Kazuo Matsui gave Rakuten a 2-1 lead with an RBI single in the third but Lee Dae Ho, who opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first, hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-2 in the third. Yasunori Kikuchi (1-0) limited the damage to two runs — one earned — on five hits in six innings. Alessandro Maestri (3-2) took the loss for the Buffaloes, who lost their fourth in a row.
Dragons 1, Carp 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kenshin Kawakami combined with three relievers on a three-hit shutout to earn his first win since March 31, leading the way in Chunichi’s victory over Hiroshima.
Kawakami (2-1) yielded just one hit and walked none over six strong innings. Daisuke Yamai got the final three outs for his 13th save.
Naomichi Donoue drove in the only run on an RBI grounder in the second inning against Yusuke Nomura (9-9).
Tigers 2, Giants 0
At Tokyo Dome, Takashi Toritani and Takahiro Arai both homered in support of Atsushi Nomi (9-9), who tossed eight shutout innings despite allowing seven hits to lift Hanshin to its first win this season at Tokyo Dome.
Toritani led off the fourth with a blast to right off D.J. Houlton (11-7) and team captain Arai belted a shot to left-center in the ninth to make it stand.
The CL-leading Giants lost for the first time since Sept. 5.
Swallows 6, BayStars 3
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, pinch hitter Kazuki Fukuchi had a game-tying two-run double in the sixth inning and Ryosuke Morioka gave Tokyo Yakult the lead with a run-scoring triple in the eighth in a rally over Yokohama, which saw its winless streak stretch to seven games.
The Swallows’ three-run eighth also featured Genki Nitta’s two-run single that capped the scoring off reliever Hitoshi Fujie (3-4).