SAPPORO – Hiroshi Kisanuki went the distance on one-run ball, Keiji Obiki hit a bases-clearing triple in a five-run sixth inning and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters routed the Seibu Lions 9-1 to win their fifth game in a row on Saturday afternoon.
The rejuvenated Fighters returned to .500 for the first time since their second game of the season on March 30.
Kisanuki (6-3) scattered four hits and struck out six with no walks. His only miscue was surrendering a solo blast to Yutaro Osaki in the fifth. Relying primarily on his tailing fastball and his forkball, both of which had unusually good late movement, Kisanuki had little trouble going the distance for the second time this season.
“The lineup won this. That made it easier for me to pitch,” Kisanuki said.
Sho Nakata opened the scoring with his 20th homer of the season leading off the second inning at Sapporo Dome. Fighters leadoff man Yang Dai-kang went 3-for-5 with an RBI single. Obiki highlighted the sixth with his three-run triple to right-center off Ken Togame (5-5).
The game saw rookie pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani return to the Fighters batting order. The 18-year-old went 1-for-4 with a single and stole his first base.
Eagles 2, Buffaloes 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Kenji Tomura yielded three hits over seven scoreless innings and two relievers completed the shutout in Tohoku Rakuten’s win over Orix.
Tomura (3-1) struck out two and walked two. Koji Aoyama and Darrell Rasner, who saved his eighth game of the year, combined to strike out five in two perfect innings of relief.
Ginji Akaminai and Ryo Hijirisawa drove in runs off Kei Igawa (2-2) in the third and fifth, respectively.
Marines 3, Hawks 2
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Saburo Omura came through with a pinch-hit, walk-off single off Fukuoka Softbank reliever Kodai Senga (1-2) in the ninth inning, giving Chiba Lotte its fifth sayonara win of the season.
Marines closer Naoya Masuda (2-3), who leads the Pacific League with 21 saves, was handed the win after he allowed an unearned run on two hits in the ninth to blow a save opportunity.
Dragons 6, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, the Dragons’ bats came alive with five home runs and Yudai Ono tossed eight innings of one-run ball in a victory against Yokohama.
Matt Clark, who opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first, broke a 1-1 tie with a two-out solo drive off Shugo Fujii (4-3) in the third. Tsuyoshi Wada, Ryosuke Hirata, Motonobu Tanishige and Hector Luna also hit solo blasts for Chunichi.
Tigers 4, Carp 3
At Koshien Stadium, Yamato Maeda’s suicide squeeze tied the game 3-3 in the fifth inning. He then had his first career walk-off hit with a two-out, ninth-inning RBI double, lifting Hanshin over Hiroshima for its third straight win.
Shinobu Fukuhara (3-0) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for the win in relief. Yuichi Hisamoto (2-2) was charged with the loss for the Carp, who dropped to a season-worst 11 games below .500.
Swallows 2, Giants 1
At Shizuoka’s Kusanagi Stadium, Tokyo Yakult rookie right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa (8-2) allowed a run in seven innings to outduel Yomiuri’s Hirokazu Sawamura (4-5) and take over the CL lead in pitching wins.
The 23-year-old Ogawa surrendered seven hits and issued three walks, while striking out five. The league-leading Giants tied it 1-1 in the sixth inning, but the Swallows reclaimed the lead on Hiroyasu Tanaka’s pinch-hit RBI single in the seventh.
Brazell ‘excited’ to be a Marine
The Chiba Lotte Marines presented their newest signing, slugging first baseman Craig Brazell, to the media on Saturday at a news conference in which the 33-year-old said he would accept any role manager Tsutomu Ito asked him to fill.
“We didn’t talk about roles, but if he wants me to dress up in the mascot suit and play third base, that’s what I’m going to do,” Brazell said.
Brazell had been playing with the independent Saint Paul Saints in the United States following his release last fall by the Hanshin Tigers. Since first coming to Japan with the Seibu Lions for the 2008 season, Brazell has a .269 career average in Japan with 118 home runs and 365 RBIs.
He hit 47 homers in 2010, his second season with the Tigers, but batted just .233 in 98 games last year.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “They’re giving me an opportunity to come back to Japan and I’m very grateful for that opportunity.”
“I’ve grown to love playing in Japan. Hopefully I want to finish my career in Japan. The fans here welcomed me, so much I fell in love with playing in Japan.”