SENDAI – Veteran Andruw Jones drove in two runs to propel the Pacific League-leading Rakuten Eagles to a 3-1 victory over the Seibu Lions on Saturday afternoon.
Jones, who has 434 career big-league homers, hit his 17th in Japan to lead off the fourth inning against Lions right-hander Ken Togame (6-6). With the bases loaded in the fifth, Jones drew his Japan-best 61st walk to make it 2-1. The Eagles’ final run followed on a groundout by former Milwaukee Brewer Casey McGehee.
Rookie right-hander Takahiro Norimoto (8-6) made the lead hold until he left the mound after six innings. He gave up five hits, issued two walks and hit a batter, while striking out six.
Shintaro Koyama worked two scoreless innings of relief. Darrel Rasner rubbed out the Lions last chance in the ninth to earn his 11th save.
Buffaloes 4, Hawks 3
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Orix’s foreign legion came up big in a win over Softbank as Venezuelan Aarom Baldiris drove in three runs and Italian Alessandro Maestri (3-2) held Softbank hitless for six innings before yielding three runs in his final two-thirds of the seventh.
Yoshio Itoi drove in the game’s first run with a one-out, fifth-inning double off Vicente Padilla (2-5). One out later, Baldiris’ bases-loaded two-bagger made it 4-0.
Marines 7, Fighters 3
At Sapporo Dome, Chiba Lotte right-hander Yuji Nishino (8-3) earned the win after allowing three runs in 5 2/3 innings against Hokkaido Nippon Ham, which has lost six of its last eight and dropped into a tie for fifth with Softbank.
The Marines broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the sixth on a play that saw three runners score without a ball being struck. With two outs and the bases jammed, Fighters right-hander Hiroshi Kisanuki (6-5) uncorked a wild pitch that let in two runs, while a third scored on the play on a throwing error by catcher Shinya Tsuruoka.
Dragons 1, Giants 0
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s Masahiro Yamamoto (4-1) rewrote his record as Japan’s oldest winning starting pitcher by digging out of several jams to throw 5 1/3 scoreless innings and five relievers completed a six-hit shutout of CL leader Yomiuri.
Yamamoto scattered five hits and three walks to win at the age of 47 years, 11 months. Hankyu Braves player-manager Shinji Hamazaki holds the record for the oldest winning pitcher, winning in relief at the age of 48 years, four months. Naomichi Donoue had an RBI single for the sole run against Hirokazu Sawamura (4-6).
Swallows 8, Carp 3
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Wladimir Balentien’s home run streak continued as he belted his 30th and 31st of the season, the second a grand slam, to lead Tokyo Yakult over Hiroshima behind rookie pitcher Yasuhiro Ogawa.
Right-hander Ogawa (10-2) allowed three runs in 7 2/3 innings and took over the Central League lead in wins. Ogawa allowed eight hits and a walk, while striking out seven.
Carp cleanup hitter Kila Ka’aihue opened the scoring with a first-inning RBI single in the top of the first inning. It was Ka’aihue’s 11th RBI in five games with the Carp.
The lead did not last long as Carp right-hander Kan Otake (5-6) surrendered first-inning solo home runs to Tsuyoshi Ueda, who hit the first of his career, and Balentien, who put the Swallows up by a run.
Balentien, who homered in his final at-bat the night before, made it 6-0 in the second with his grand slam. Ryohei Nakamura led off with a single and two outs later Ueda singled to put men on the corners. Lastings Milledge walked, and Balentien, who has won the last two CL home run titles with 31 each time, matched that total for the third straight year.
Should he maintain his pace, Balentien would finish with 60 home runs, five more than the Japan record set in 1964 by Hall of Famer Sadaharu Oh and matched by Tuffy Rhodes in 2001 and Alex Cabrera in 2002.
“It’s a record that’s been there a long time, so reaching that record would be personally exciting,” Balentien said. “But we have to get there first, then we’ll see.”
BayStars 6, Tigers 0
At Koshien Stadium, journeyman lefty Shugo Fujii (5-3) allowed five hits and issued two walks, while striking out six to post his first shutout since 2002 as Yokohama blanked Hanshin.
Tatsuhiko Kinjo’s three-run home run capped a five-run fourth inning for the BayStars, while Tony Blanco’s 28th home run of the season completed the scoring in the ninth.