SENDAI – Wily Mo Pena hit his fifth home run of the young season and Kei Igawa pitched five scoreless innings as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 3-1 on Thursday to complete a three-game road sweep.
Igawa (1-0) allowed two hits and issued three walks, while striking out three to earn the victory before a weekday afternoon crowd of 15,651 at Kobo Stadium Miyagi.
He and his teammates had some anxious moments in the bottom of the ninth, but held on for the win. The Eagles lost three in a row after winning their opening three to start the season.
“I’m happy I received a chance to pitch so soon,” Igawa said. “Our relievers are the best, so I wasn’t worried (in the ninth inning).”
Pena, who had gone deep in his previous two at-bats on Wednesday, homered to lead off the second inning against 19-year-old Yudai Mori (0-1), who allowed two runs in 5-2/3 innings in his Pacific League debut. Mori, the Eagles’ top draft pick in 2012, surrendered six hits and two walks and had five strikeouts.
“He (Mori) threw some good pitches,” Rakuten skipper Senichi Hoshino said. “If he can make some adjustments, he can take a big step forward.”
Ryoichi Adachi scored Orix’s second run after he led off the fifth with a double. He came home from third on an Esteban German sacrifice fly.
The Buffaloes added an insurance run in the ninth after former National League All-Star Takashi Saito loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batsman.
Rakuten’s Andruw Jones broke up the shutout against Yoshihisa Hirano in the bottom of the ninth.
Jones singled, took second on a balk, went to third on a deep fly and came home on a single by former Buffalo Mitsutaka Goto. Kazuo Matsui’s one-out double put the potential winning run at second, but Hirano pitched his way out of trouble to record his second save.
Also in Thursday’s game, the Eagles’ Ryo Hijirisawa set the Japanese pro baseball record for consecutive fielding chances without an error by an outfielder.
Hijirisawa played center field and set the record of 821 errorless chances when he caught German’s aforementioned sac fly. Hijirisawa made three more putouts in center to extend the mark to 824.
On Wednesday, Hijirisawa matched Eiji Fujii’s record of 820 consecutive chances without an error — a streak accomplished with the Hanshin Tigers and Taiheiyo Club Lions
Hijirisawa’s errorless streak began in a game against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Sept. 22, 2010. He became the Pacific League record holder in an interleague game against the Hiroshima Carp on May 25, 2013.
Fujii set the current Central League record with 817 errorless chances with the Tigers from September 1967 to April 1974. He then extended his Japan record with three more successful chances in the PL with Taiheiyo.
Hawks 5, Fighters 4
At Yafuoku Dome, Kenta Imamiya’s ninth-inning single off closer Hisashi Takeda (0-1) capped a two-run rally by plating the winning run as Fukuoka Softbank came from a run down to beat Hokkaido Nippon Ham and snap a two-game losing streak.
Hawks closer Dennis Sarfate (1-0) worked a scoreless ninth to earn the win, his first since joining the club over the winter from the Seibu Lions.
Lions at Marines — ppd.
CENTRAL LEAGUETigers 7, Dragons 4
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Matt Murton and Kosuke Fukudome each drove in a pair of runs and ace lefty Atsushi Nomi (1-1) allowed three runs in six innings as Hanshin defeated Chunichi for the second straight night.
The Tigers lit up Dragons starter Soma Yamauchi (0-1) for seven runs — five earned — in four innings.
Giants at BayStars — ppd.
Swallows at Carp — ppd.