FUKUOKA – Paul Oseguera went five-plus innings to win his Japan debut and Fukuoka Softbank’s bullpen pitched out of a series of jams as the Hawks defeated the Pacific League-leading Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 4-0 on Sunday.
Oseguera, a 29-year-old whom the Hawks signed out of the Mexican League, allowed four hits, walked two and hit a batter, while striking out four. The lefty didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, when he had a 4-0 lead in his pocket.
With the loss, the Eagles lead over the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines shrink to 3½ games.
Akira Nakamura blasted a leadoff homer in the bottom of the first for the Hawks, who scored on three consecutive two-out, timely hits in the third off Brandon Duckworth (5-5).
“We wanted to get on the board early, but who would have thought I’d hit one out,” said Nakamura of his first career home run at the Hawks’ imposing ballpark. “I’ve been with the team for six years and I’ve never even hit one in games here with the farm team.”
Oseguera pitched out of a two-on, two-out jam in the fifth and was pulled after putting two on in the sixth.
“It felt very good to see a leadoff home run behind me, but most of all, the defense was excellent,” Oseguera said. “I’m glad to be able to pitch the way I did for my first outing and I’m looking forward to my next one.”
Rookie reliever Kodai Senga walked the bases loaded but struck out No. 5 hitter Casey McGehee for the first out, and lefty Masahiko Morifuku struck out the next two batters.
The win was the Hawks’ second straight over the Eagles.
“It really is the case that we face one must-win game after another, so each day we have to treat our games with the proper importance,” Nakamura said.
Marines 4, Fighters 3
At QVC Marine Field, second-place Chiba Lotte erased a three-run deficit in the fifth on an error by Fighters third baseman Eiichi Koyano and a two-run single by Tadahito Iguchi.
Four Lotte relievers combined for 4⅓ scoreless innings and Shunichi Nemoto won it for the Marines in the bottom of the ninth with an RBI single.
Buffaloes 7, Lions 1
At Seibu Dome, Yoshio Itoi and Lee Dae Ho hit back-to-back RBI doubles off veteran right-hander Fumiya Nishiguchi (0-2), who started and allowed three runs without recording an out as Orix walloped Seibu.
Dragons 2, Giants 2 (12)
At Tokyo Dome, Chunichi starter Daisuke Yamai surrendered a game-tying homer in the sixth inning to Yoshinobu Takahashi, but the Dragons survived two late-inning, bases-loaded jams to hold league-leading Yomiuri to a tie.
While Chunichi ran through seven pitchers, Giants rookie Tomoyuki Sugano allowed two runs, one earned, in nine innings.
Carp 2, Tigers 1
At Koshien Stadium, Ryuhei Matsuyama and Yoshihiro Maru each hit a solo homer as Hiroshima downed Hanshin. Right-hander Keisuke Imai (2-1) allowed a run in six innings to earn the win.
Tigers right-hander Takumi Akiyama (0-3) allowed two runs on five hits and two walks to suffer the tough loss.
BayStars 2, Swallows 1
At Jingu Stadium, Takayuki Kajitani tied the game in the second inning as Yokohama came from behind to beat Tokyo Yakult, scoring the winning run in the ninth on Kazunari Tsuruoka’s bases-loaded squeeze.
Wladimir Balentien, who is chasing Japan’s single-season home run record of 55, just missed hitting his 53rd in the first inning, when his sacrifice fly was caught just shy of the wall.