TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREFECTURE – Shingo Kawabata and Kazuhiro Hatakeyama each hit two-run, first-inning home runs on Friday as the Tokyo Yakult Swallows beat the Seibu Lions 8-4 to end their winless start to interleague play.
The Lions, who are last in the Pacific League, have lost all three of their games thus far against Central League opposition this season.
Seibu starter Ryoma Nogami dug himself a hole in the first before a crowd of 14,690 at Seibu Dome.
Nogami (3-4) struck out the first two batters he faced, but then Tsuyoshi Ueda swung and missed at a two-strike curveball that short-hopped catcher Ginjiro Sumitani and the speedster reached on a dropped third strike. Kawabata then pulled a belt-high 2-0 slider over the fence in right for his sixth homer and a 2-0 Yakult lead.
“I wasn’t up there trying to hit one (a home run),” said Kawabata. “Ueda’s fast so if I could get one in the gap, he’d have a chance to score.
“Everyone on the team is hitting and I don’t want to be bringing up the rear, so I really want to get my hits.”
Cleanup man Wladimir Balentien doubled to right and with two outs. Hatakeyama drilled a high 1-0 fastball into the seats in left field for his seventh homer of the season.
Swallows pitcher Ryohei Kiya (4-2) helped himself with the bat in the top of the fourth. Ryoji Aikawa drew an eight-pitch two-out walk and Kiya reached on his third single of the season. Tetsuto Yamada then doubled to the wall in right with a drawn-in outfield to score Aikawa while Kiya was out at the plate.
The Lions got their offense going in the bottom half after two quick outs. Ernesto Mejia’s second homer since he joined Seibu put the Lions on the board.
Hideto Asamura then beat out a grounder to third, and Kiya suddenly lost control, issuing back-to-back walks to load the bases before pushing across a run on four straight balls to pinch hitter Hichori Morimoto. Shogo Akiyama singled in two more.
“I think he (Kiya) must have been gassed after running so hard on the bases,” Kawabata said of the pitcher’s troubles in the bottom of the fourth. “No matter what he did, he couldn’t get it in the zone. But when they had a chance to come from behind, he gutted it out.”
Yakult added a run on Aikawa’s in the sixth to make it a 6-4 game.
Kiya (4-2) allowed four runs in five innings on five hits and five walks. He struck out seven. Kenichi Matsuoka took over in the sixth and worked two scoreless innings.
The Swallows added two more runs on pinch hitter Yasushi Iihara’s RBI single and Yamada’s bases-loaded walk in the eighth.
Right-handers Tetsuya Yamamoto and rookie Ryo Akiyoshi finished off the Lions with a scoreless eighth and ninth inning, respectively.
BayStars 5, Fighters 0
At Sapporo Dome, a night after being shut out, Yokohama blanked Hokkaido Nippon Ham as Shoichi Ino (7-2) gave up four hits, struck out 10 and walked one en route to his first career shutout.
Tony Blanco did most of the damage for the BayStars with a three-run, third-inning home run.
Hawks 4, Tigers 2
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Fukuoka Softbank overcame a two-run deficit to defeat Hanshin and improve to 3-0 in interleague play as Lee Dae-ho capped a four-run sixth inning with a three-run home run off Randy Messenger (4-5).
Both Tigers’ runs scored on Mauro Gomez’s first-inning home run.
Buffaloes 3, Carp 1
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (4-3) threw eight scoreless innings to outduel Hiroshima ace Kenta Maeda (4-3).
Yoshio Itoi went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and two RBIs for the Buffaloes, who were outhit 8-5.
The Central League-leading Carp have lost three straight for the first time this season.
Dragons 5, Eagles 1
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Daniel Cabrera (5-3) allowed a run in 6 1/3 innings and Ryosuke Hirata had an RBI single and a two-run home run off Wataru Karashima (3-5) in Chunichi’s win over Tohoku Rakuten.
Marines 7, Giants 1
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Chiba Lotte ace Yoshihisa Naruse (4-4) allowed a run in seven innings to win for the first time in roughly a month.
Daichi Suzuki’s seventh-inning RBI triple broke a 1-1 tie. Yomiuri ace Tetsuya Utsumi allowed two runs in 6-2/3 innings but saw his record fall to 0-5 in nine games.