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Obiki, Fighters clobber Hawks

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Keiji Obiki helped erase a four-run deficit with a come-from-behind grand slam in the second inning, and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters went on to rout the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 11-5 on Thursday night at Tokyo Dome.

The Fighters were behind 4-1 in the second when Obiki connected on the first grand slam of his career, his third home run this season, to give the team a 5-4 lead.

The two teams were back at the Big Egg after playing the longest game in Pacific League history the night before. The Hawks earned a 12-inning, 9-7 win in that contest, which took 6 hours and 1 minute to play.

Thursday’s game lasted 4 hours and 1 minute.

Nippon Ham scored all its runs in two innings Thursday, taking the lead in a six-run second and padding the advantage with a five-run eighth.

Obiki led the way, finishing 2-for-5 with five RBIs. Eiichi Koyano drove in a pair of runs on a 3-for-4 night and Michel Abreu had an RBI single among his three hits. Shota Ono finished 2-for-4 with an RBI while Haruki Nishikawa and Kenji Sato each chipped in with a run apiece.

Brian Wolfe (7-5) earned the win for Nippon Ham despite an up-and-down outing that saw him charged with four runs on five hits. He struck out one and walked four.

Kim Mu-young (0-1) took the loss for Softbank, which sent six pitchers to the mound, none of whom lasted more than two innings. Kim was charged with six runs on three hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Softbank’s Yuichi Honda finished 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, while Toru Hosokawa and Akira Nakamura, who hit a three-run homer in the 12th on Wednesday, also drove in runs.

The Hawks move on to Osaka, where they’ll face the Orix Buffaloes at Kyocera Dome on Friday night. Softbank will send ace Tadashi Settsu (14-5) to the mound against the Buffaloes’ Yuki Nishi (7-7).

Nippon Ham has a date with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Sendai that same night, in a game that will feature a marquee pitching matchup as Fighters rookie Shohei Otani (3-0) opposes the Eagles’ Masahiro Tanaka (19-0).

Buffaloes trample Marines

Kyodo
OSAKA

Orix Buffaloes left-hander Yuji Maeda allowed a run in seven innings and his teammates overcame an early deficit to beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 8-1 on Thursday in the Pacific League.

The loss knocked second-place Lotte five games back of the Pacific League-leading Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

The Buffaloes seized the lead on Lee Dae Ho’s two-run, first-inning single and made it 3-1 when catcher Hikaru Ito homered for the first time in two seasons to lead off the fourth. Orix then blew the game open in a five-run fifth.

“I was the leadoff man so my only thought was to get on base,” Ito said. “I’m not a home run batter, so my first thought when I hit it was that it might find a gap so I’d better run hard.”

Maeda (2-2) allowed a first-inning homer but never let a Lotte leadoff man reach base as he gave up four hits but no walks, while striking out four.

“I hadn’t been able to get wins, but I have been pitching pretty well. Today Hikaru carried me, so I’m pretty happy. I didn’t do anything different today, just followed Hikaru’s lead.”

Lions at Eagles — ppd.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

BayStars 1, Tigers 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Sho Aranami’s third hit of the game proved to be vital as he singled in the only run in the ninth inning, sending Yokohama to its second straight win over Hanshin.

Tigers starter Randy Messenger worked eight scoreless innings but failed to collect his 12th win. BayStars rookie Kazuki Mishima benefitted from three double plays to keep Hanshin scoreless for 7 2/3 innings.

Dragons 8, Carp 3

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Shuhei Takahashi broke a 2-2, fourth-inning tie with a two-run triple and capped the proceedings with a two-run homer as Chunichi bashed Hiroshima.

Veteran catcher Motonobu Tanishige gave the visitors the early lead with a two-run homer in the third, but the Carp’s Ryosuke Kikuchi evened things up with his own two-run shot in the bottom of the inning.