SENDAI – The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles stretched their Pacific League lead to four games on Saturday as right-hander Kenji Tomura worked eight innings in an 8-1 victory over the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines.
Tomura (4-1) missed a shot at his first career complete game when he did not come out to pitch the ninth following a delay to repair the rain-soaked mound at Kleenex Stadium.
“In this kind of weather, I worked to get ahead in counts and establish a quick tempo,” said Tomura, who gave up six hits and walked three, while striking out two.
He surrendered the lead in the top of the first on a Craig Brazell RBI single, but allowed the visitors two more scoring opportunities before the second straight full house at the Eagles’ home park.
The hosts put the game away early with a five-run second inning. Casey McGehee led off the inning against Dicky Gonzalez (0-2) with his 19th home run. Motohiro Shima, the hero of the previous night’s ninth-inning comeback, singled in the go-ahead run and No. 9 hitter Hiroaki Shimauchi tripled in two runs.
Asked about the solid hitting by the bottom of his lineup, Eagles manager Senichi Hoshino was in good form.
“It had to be the bottom of the lineup because the top of the order is useless,” the acerbic skipper said. “It was nice to score early, since we don’t get around to scoring until the end.”
“(Tomura) put in a gutsy effort in some nasty conditions.”
The Eagles, who are playing in their 10th season, moved a record 14 games over .500.
“That’s a record for us, 14 games? That’s pretty sad,” Hoshino said. “We need to do better than that.”
Hawks 3, Fighters 0
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Softbank ace Tadashi Settsu (10-4) threw a two-hit shutout and former Chicago Cub Bryan LaHair drove in all three of the Hawks’ runs in a win over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
LaHair plated the game’s first run with a second-inning RBI double off Bobby Keppel (1-1).
Settsu, who retired the last 17 batters he faced, got some insurance in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run double off the bat of LaHair.
Buffaloes 7, Lions 2
At Seibu Dome, Orix’s Aarom Baldiris capped a back-breaking five-run third inning off struggling Seibu ace Hideaki Wakui (4-5) with his 12th home run, a two-run shot.
Lions captain Takumi Kuriyama responded with a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning off lefty Kei Igawa, but Yoshio Itoi and Hikaru Ito each doubled in another run as the Buffaloes cruised to victory.
Giants 9, Dragons 3
At Nagoya Dome, Daisuke Nakai’s three-run, sixth-inning home run brought Yomiuri from behind as the Central League-leading Giants went on to beat Chunichi’s Daniel Cabrera (4-3), who returned to action from a broken rib suffered on June 5.
Cabrera, a former mainstay of the Baltimore Orioles starting rotation, allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He walked two batters and struck out two.
Swallows 7, Carp 3
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Lastings Milledge homered for the third straight game and Shingo Kawabata’s first homer of the year, a grand slam, capped a six-run eighth inning, helping Tokyo Yakult rookie Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa to his 11th win.
Ogawa (11-2) allowed three runs on six hits and a hit batsman over seven innings. He blew a one-run lead in the sixth, when Hiroshima’s Kila Ka’aihue capped a three-run sixth inning with his sixth home run.
BayStars 4, Tigers 1
At Koshien Stadium, Yokohama right-hander Tim Corcoran (1-2) allowed a run in five innings for his first victory in Japan as the BayStars came from a run down to defeat Hanshin ace Atsushi Nomi and move into third place.
Nomi (8-5) drove in the game’s first run and retired the first 15 batters he faced, but allowed five hits in Yokohama’s three-run fifth inning. With the score tied 1-1, Nyjer Morgan and Tony Blanco each hit an RBI single on a perfectly placed ground ball.