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Yanagita leads Hawks to comeback victory over Fighters

Kyodo

Yuki Yanagita started a triple play and plated the tying run as the Pacific League-leading Fukuoka Softbank Hawks came from behind to beat the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 2-1 on Tuesday.

Jason Standridge (2-1) allowed a run in seven innings at Tokyo Dome, but got some help from Yanagita and the Fighters to escape the third inning with just a run scored.

The Fighters drew three walks over the first two innings from the big right-hander, but couldn’t manage a hit until Yang Dai-kang led off the third with a single and Haruki Nishikawa doubled. Double-duty Fighters star Shohei Otani singled in the game’s first run and put runners on the corners, but Nippon Ham could get nothing more.

Sho Nakata lined out to center fielder Yanagita. Nishikawa tagged up to try and score but was out easily at the plate. Otani, who had gone halfway on Nakata’s fly, retreated to first. He tried to make it to second on the throw home, but was easily thrown out at second to complete the triple play.

“I was surprised with that throw, it’s more than I’m normally capable of,” Yanagita said. “Basically, I have confidence in my arm, but I had an injury last year. I guess that confidence is back now.

“Jason did such a great job, and I was just glad to help.”

The Hawks managed just two hits through four innings off Mexican right-hander Luis Mendoza (1-3) but Yuya Hasegawa opened the fifth with a single and took second on a wild pitch. Yanagita singled him home from third with one out to tie it. An error prolonged the inning and Yuichi Honda singled home the tie-breaking run with two outs.

“I’d had a hit in my previous at-bat, so I was pretty comfortable at the plate,” Yanagita said. “Now we have to come out tomorrow and try to do it again.”

Standridge allowed five hits and three walks, while striking out three. Mendoza gave up seven hits without a walk. He struck out three.

Softbank closer Dennis Sarfate retired Nippon Ham in order for his seventh save.

Buffaloes 6, Marines 1

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Orix’s Yuki Nishi (4-0) threw a six-hitter, going the distance to defeat Chiba Lotte despite allowing a first-inning run on back-to-back doubles.

The Buffaloes turned the game around in the second. With two outs and the bases loaded, three straight hits by Hikaru Ito, Esteban German and Keichi Hirano drove in five runs off Marines starter Hideaki Wakui (1-3).

Eagles 2, Lions 1 (12)

At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Andruw Jones tied the game in the eighth inning with his first home run of the game and won it in the bottom of the 12th with his second as Tohoku Rakuten came from behind to beat last-place Seibu.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 10, Dragons 4

At Nagoya Dome, Takahiro Arai’s pinch-hit RBI single broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth and Hiroki Uemoto capped the rally with a two-run single as Hanshin outbattled Chunichi to win its fourth straight.

Carp 7, Swallows 4

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, league-leading Hiroshima overcame a four-run deficit to defeat Toyo Yakult.

Yoshihiro Maru put the Carp in front with a two-run triple in the sixth and Brad Eldred followed with his second RBI single of the game.

Hiroshima skipper Kenjiro Nomura was ejected for arguing an out call longer than five minutes in the top of the sixth inning. The next three Carp hitters got on base to give his team the lead.

Giants 4, BayStars 1

At Miyazaki’s Sun Marine Stadium, Yomiuri’s Tomoyuki Sugano allowed six hits over the distance to beat Yokohama and improve to 4-0, while Leslie Anderson brought the Giants back from a 1-0 deficit with a fifth-inning grand slam.