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Fighters’ Laird matches NPB mark with homers in four consecutive at-bats, doing so over two days

Veteran slugger goes deep in first two trips to the plate in Fighters' rout of Marines

Kyodo

Brandon Laird became the 20th player to go deep in four consecutive at-bats in Nippon Professional Baseball on Saturday as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines 11-6.

A day after hitting two two-run homers before drawing two walks in Nippon Ham’s 15-1 demolition of Lotte, Laird belted a solo shot in the second inning at Tokyo Dome. He again took Lotte starter Kota Futaki, who lasted three innings allowing five runs, deep in the third, this time for two runs to give his team a 5-1 lead.

Laird grounded into a double play in his next trip to the plate in the fifth. But the American, who hit 39 homers last season to lead the PL in the category, has now reached double figures in each of his three seasons in Japan as he took his tally for the year to 11.

The last player to hit four home runs in as many consecutive at-bats was Tetsuto Yamada of the Yakult Swallows in 2015, while Nigel Wilson of the Fighters in 1997 was the last to do so from the PL. Sadaharu Oh, Koichi Tabuchi, Randy Bass and Wladimir Balentien also achieved the feat previously.

Matt Duffy and Kohei Shibata each hit two-run home runs in the fourth off Kohei Arihara (2-4) to hand the struggling Marines a lifeline. But reliever Yuki Ariyoshi (0-1) loaded the bases in the sixth before surrendering a two-run single to Kenji Yano and a two-run double to Kensuke Kondo, who went 3-for-3 with two walks.

Arihara started the season with four straight losses but has picked up two wins since. The right-hander allowed five runs over six innings on five hits and three walks, striking out four in an 86-pitch effort.

“Arihara got his first win in the last outing, and I headed to the plate thinking another win today would get him on a roll and back to his best,” Yano said.

Duffy did provide some positives for Lotte, hitting his second homer of the day with a solo shot in the eighth, but the PL cellar-dwelling team went on to suffer its fourth straight defeat for the fourth time this season.

Hawks 3, Eagles 2

At Kumamoto Stadium, Fukuoka SoftBank won its fifth straight after Yuki Yanagita, who went 3-for-4, hit a two-run double in the first off Tohoku Rakuten’s Manabu Mima (4-1) before scoring his team’s third run in the seventh.

Kenichi Nakata (4-2) allowed two runs over 7-1/3 innings.

Lions 8, Buffaloes 2

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Ernesto Mejia and Fumikazu Kimura hit solo homers and the latter doubled in two runs in the seventh as Seibu hammered Orix.

Yasuo Sano (1-0) held the Buffaloes to a run over five innings in his first start of the year.

Both teams are at .500.CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 4, Swallows 3

At Matsuyama Stadium, Dayan Viciedo blasted a ninth-inning three-run homer off Tokyo Yakult closer Ryo Akiyoshi (3-2) to lift Chunichi.

Swallows starter Yasuhiro Ogawa held the CL’s last-place team to a run on three hits over eight innings but his team left 13 runners stranded.

Carp 11, Giants 2

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima scored three first-inning runs off Yomiuri starter Miles Mikolas (4-2) before Brad Eldred went deep twice for four runs in a runaway victory.

Akitake Okada (4-1) earned the win after fanning eight over seven innings, allowing five hits.

Tigers at BayStars — ppd.