SENDAI – Sho Nakata became the first Japanese player in over two years to homer three times in one game, Keisuke Tanimoto threw seven shutout innings, and Hokkaido Nippon Ham walloped the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 13-1 on Friday afternoon to win their third straight three-game series.
Nakata had a three-run blast to left to key a four-run first against Manabu Mima (3-2), and hit leadoff shots — straight away to center and again to left — in the third and seventh, respectively, at Kleenex Stadium.
“I wanted to give our starter Tanimoto-san as much support as I could so he could focus on pitching. I’m glad that I could get us on the scoreboard first,” said Nakata, who had the first three-homer game of his pro career. “I got the tip of the bat on it (for the first homer), but the wind really carried the ball. The second one I got a prefect swing on it. The third one was the wind again,” he said with a laugh.
Micah Hoffpauir went deep in the fifth for his second grand slam in as many games.
Tanimoto (1-2) gave up just one hit, struck out four and walked three.
Masahiko Morino (Chunichi) was the last Japanese player to hit three homers in a game when he did so against the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium on Aug. 1, 2010.
This season, Tony Blanco (Yokohama), Wladimir Balentien (Tokyo Yakult) and Josh Whitesell (Chiba Lotte) have all achieved the feat.
Hawks 7, Lions 6 (11)
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, leadoff man Yuya Hasegawa hit a tiebreaking RBI single off Randy Williams (0-1) with one out in the 11th inning as Fukuoka Softbank prevailed to win its fifth straight in a battle over Seibu, which saw its PL lead shrink to 1-1/2 games over second-place Chiba Lotte.
Hideto Asamura hit a game-tying grand slam in the eighth to rally the Lions before the home team regained the lead on a Yuki Yoshimura leadoff drive in the bottom half. Seibu retied it on Shogo Akiyama’s RBI single with two outs in the ninth.
Marines 5, Buffaloes 3
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Chiba Lotte’s Katsuya Kakunaka overturned a 3-2 deficit with a two-out, two-run single in the seventh in support of Yuki Karakawa (2-2), who yielded three runs in 7 1/3 innings against Orix.
The Marines scored three times to take control in the seventh en route to their third win in a row and moved a season-high three games above .500.
Naoya Masuda escaped a two-on jam in the ninth for his ninth save of the year.
Tigers 14, Swallows 3
At Koshien Stadium, Takashi Toritani had a two-run single to key a six-run uprising in the second inning, Takahiro Arai went 3-for-5 with four RBIs, and Hanshin routed Tokyo Yakult in a 19-hit onslaught to take the first of a three-game set.
Randy Messenger (4-0) limited the damage to three runs on six hits in seven innings, while striking out four and walking three.
The Swallows’ Masanori Ishikawa (2-3) was roughed up for eight runs in just 1-1/3 innings.
Dragons 4, BayStars 0
At Nagoya Dome, Hector Luna broke a scoreless tie with a three-run homer in the fourth inning and Motonobu Tanishige added a leadoff blast in the seventh as Chunichi snapped a two-game losing skid with a win over Yokohama.
Tanishige’s hit was the 1,997th of his career, while the BayStars’ Norihiro Nakamura singled to move to within four hits of 2,000 in his career.
Lefty Yudai Ono (1-4) went seven innings on three hits — all singles. He struck out six and walked three. Kentaro Takasaki (1-3) took the loss after surrendering three runs in six innings.
Giants 5, Carp 4 (10)
At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri’s Ryota Wakiya proved to be Hiroshima’s nemesis once again as his 10th-inning single lifted the Giants to victory past the Carp.
Yoshiyuki Kamei scored the winning run from third after reaching on a one-out double off Kam Mickolio (1-1). Wakiya, who had two late hits that helped lift the Giants to a pair of victories over the Carp in March, finished the game with a clean single to center.