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Hawks showcase strength of batting lineup in 16-hit attack

by

Staff Writer

The Fukuoka Softbank Hawks just kept hitting, and hitting and hitting. All the Yomiuri Giants could do was ride out the storm until the game was over.

Takashi Hosoyamada broke a tie with his first RBI hit in more than four years, Akira Niho pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, and the Hawks buried the Giants under a deluge of hits in an 8-4 win in front of a crowd of 44,740 on Friday night at Tokyo Dome.

“This was a typical night for our hitters,” Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo said. “We have a great lineup and expect to get a lot of hits every game.”

Softbank banged out 16 hits in the win. The Pacific League club also got a pair a home runs, from Akira Nakamura and Tomoaki Egawa, for its fourth-straight multi-homer contest.

The Hawks have won three straight and improved to 7-3 in interleague play.

“We’ll try to make it four wins in a row tomorrow,” Kudo said.

Niho threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win in relief of starter Tadashi Settsu, who left with the lead but only lasted 4 2/3 innings in a lackluster outing.

He entered the game with two outs in the fifth, with the Hawks trying to protect a two-run lead and the bases full of Giants. He battled through a long at-bat against Yomiuri pinch hitter Hirokazu Ibata, getting a lineout to second with his eighth pitch.

“I just tried to relax and take it one batter at a time, one pitch at a time to work my way out of it,” Niho said.

Every starting position player had at least one hit for Softbank. Seiichi Uchikawa and Yuki Yanagita were both 3-for-5, while Nakamura, Lee Dae-ho and Nobuhiro Matsuda had two hits apiece.

Hosoyamada was only 1-for-3 but picked up a hit that had been a long time coming.

He was drafted by the Yokohama BayStars in 2008 and was with the club through 2013. He didn’t make an appearance on the top team for the BayStars in 2012 or 2013, and spent 2014 on the Hawks’ farm team. He made his debut with Softbank on April 18 of this season and was playing in his second game on Friday.

When he stepped to the plate in the third inning on Friday, Softbank had players on second and third. Hosoyamada began to make up for lost time with a two-run double that broke a 2-2 tie. It was his first RBI hit since Oct. 8, 2011, when he drove in a pair with a single against the Hanshin Tigers.

Nakamura’s home run, which barely reached the seats in right field, was his first of the season. Egawa’s homer, which came when he was pinch-hitting for Hosoyamada, was his first of 2015 as well.

The Hawks needed all the offense to counter an off-night by Settsu. The Softbank starter allowed four runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked six.

“Settsu did not pitch his usual game tonight,” Kudo said. “So I had no problem taking him out after 4 2/3 innings.”

Tetsuya Utsumi was making his season debut for the Giants after nursing a forearm injury since the spring. Utsumi retired the first three batters he faced, but was knocked around in the third and fourth innings. He left after an apparent leg injury in the fourth. Utsumi took the loss after allowing five runs in 3 1/3 innings.

“Utsumi’s pitching was disappointing,” Giants manger Tatsunori Hara said. “Then he was injured again. It was not the result I expected.”

Hisayoshi Chono and Yasuyuki Kataoka hit home runs for the Giants, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.

Yomiuri got off to a good start. Soichiro Tateoka began the bottom of the first with a single and then stole second. He went to third on a Kataoka groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly by Yoshiyuki Kamei.

The Giants went ahead 2-0 in the second on Chono’s fourth home run of the season.

Keizo Kawashima began the Hawks’ half of the third with a single, and Nakamura tied the game later in the inning with his home run.

Hosoyamada broke the tie with his double in the fourth to make the score 4-2. The team also added a run on a successful double steal in the same inning.

Softbank kept it going in the fifth, with Yanagita hitting a double to begin the frame and coming home on a run-scoring two-bagger from Lee, the Pa League Monthly MVP for hitters in May.

Kataoka got the Giants closer with a two-run homer in the fifth that cut the Softbank lead to two runs.

The Hawks got them both back on Egawa’s two-run homer in the seventh.

Buffaloes end six-game slide

KYODO

Orix snapped a six-game losing streak behind top draft pick Sachiya Yamasaki (1-2), who allowed two runs in five-plus innings to earn his first career win as the Buffaloes beat the Chunichi Dragons 3-2 on Friday night.

Lions 3, BayStars 3 (5)

At Yokohama Stadium, Takeya Nakamura’s 16th home run, a three-run, first-inning shot, put Seibu on top, but Yokohama’s Jose Lopez tied it through a first-inning single and a two-run homer, his ninth, in the third.

The game was declared a tie when it was called after five innings due to rain.

Carp 2, Eagles 1

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroki Kuroda (5-2) worked seven scoreless innings thanks to two huge defensive plays in the sixth inning, and Seiya Suzuki broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the inning with a two-run double as Hiroshima defeated Tohoku Rakuten.

Fighters at Tigers — ppd.

Eagles at Swallows — ppd.