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Fighters bounce back, blank Eagles

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters didn’t put up much of a fight against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles’ ace in the first game of their series.

Reigning Pacific League MVP Mitsuo Yoshikawa was only too happy to help his team return the favor in the teams’ next meeting.

Yoshikawa and a pair of Fighters relievers kept the Eagles off the scoreboard, Sho Nakata and Michel Abreu homered, and the Fighters beat the Eagles 6-0 on Wednesday night at Tokyo Dome.

The Fighters were coming off a stinging 9-1 defeat at the hands of Rakuten star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka and a Eagles lineup that caught fire Tuesday night.

Nippon Ham got off to a much better start Wednesday, with Eiichi Koyano driving in the Fighters’ first run with an RBI single in the first and Shinya Tsuruoka making the score 2-0 with a run-scoring single in the second. Nakata tacked on another run with his solo shot in the third, his third of the season.

“My timing was pretty good, and I was able to get a good pitch,” said Nakata, who singled to left his next time up.

Daikan Yoh broke the game open with a two-run double in the fourth, and Abreu, pinch-hitting for Atsunori Inaba in the eighth, made the score 6-0 with his only swing of the night.

“I was looking for a fastball,” Abreu said. “I saw that he threw fastball away to Nakata, and I was just trying to hit that pitch.”

The home run was the second of the season for Abreu, who is in his first season in Japan.

“I feel great,” Abreu said. “I feel very good. I want to play, so I’m trying to hit.”

Yoshikawa (1-1) threw seven innings of shutout ball, allowing nine hits, striking out two and walking three to earn his first win of the season.

“I really want to pitch with all my power in my next start,” Yoshikawa said.

Reliever Yuya Ishii worked a scoreless eighth and Hirotoshi Masui was able to preserve the shutout in the ninth.

Rakuten starter Yoshinao Kamata (0-2) allowed five runs on eight hits in the loss. Kamata struck out three and walked two.

Kazuo Matsui led the way for the Eagles at the plate, finishing 3-for-4. Catcher Motohiro Shima also had a multi-hit night, going 2-for-4.

The two teams will meet in the finale of their three-game series at the Big Egg Thursday night.

Hiroshi Kisanuki will toe the rubber for the Fighters and pitch in the ballpark he called home as a member of the Yomiuri Giants for the first seven years of his career. Manabu Mima will get the start for the Eagles.

Miyazaki delivers go-ahead RBI in 10th

KITAKYUSHU
KYODO

Pinch hitter Yuki Miyazaki broke a 2-2 tie with a bases-loaded RBI single with one out in the 10th inning and Mitsutaka Goto padded the lead with another run-scoring single off lefty reliever Masahiko Morifuku (0-1) as the Orix Buffaloes defeated the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 4-2 in 10 innings in Pacific League action on Wednesday.

Yoshihisa Hirano (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth for the win at Kitakyushu Civic Stadium. Yuki Yanagida’s had a game-tying two-run homer in the second, but the struggling Hawks could only manage three hits and lost three straight for the second time this season.

Lions 4, Marines 1

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Koji Yamasaki broke a scoreless tie with a seventh-inning RBI single off left-handed starter Takahiro Fujioka (1-1). That helped make a winner of Ryoma Nogami (2-0), who tossed one-run ball over seven innings against Chiba Lotte to help his team snap a two-game losing skid.

Hideto Asamura keyed a three-run eighth with a two-run double on a 3-for-4 night. Tatsuya Oshi pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.

CENTRAL LEAGUE


Swallows 4, Dragons 2

At Nagoya Dome, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama opened the scoring with a three-run double and put the icing on the cake with a leadoff homer in the ninth inning, driving in all the runs for his team in a victory over Chunichi.

Rookie Yasuhiro Ogawa (2-0) yielded one unearned run over seven effective innings. Hector Luna led off the ninth with a drive to center, but it was too little, too late for the Dragons.

Carp 5, BayStars 1

At Yokohama Stadium, Tomohiro Abe and catcher Yoshiyuki Ishihara hit back-to-back RBI singles to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning, and Hiroshima downed Yokohama to win three in a row for the first time this season.

Bryan Bullington (2-1) went 8 2/3 innings on one-run ball, despite allowing seven hits. He struck out six and walked one. Pinch hitter Hitoshi Tamura went down on strikes with runners at the corners against Kam Mickolio for the final out.

Giants 0, Tigers 0 (12)

At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi worked seven scoreless innings in a pitching duel against Hanshin starter Jason Standridge, who went the same distance as the two teams played out a scoreless tie over 12 innings.

The Tigers squandered several opportunities to score and were held scoreless for the fourth time this season.