For the first time in three days, the Nippon Ham Fighters came out swinging.

Kuniyuki Kimoto belted a two-run homer in the first inning and added two more runs with a single in the second as the Fighters shut out the Seibu Lions 6-0 Wednesday night at the Tokyo Dome.

Nippon Ham right-hander Satoru Kanemura picked up his first win of the season after scattering five hits and a walk in seven innings while notching eight strikeouts.

“I’m really grateful for all the support the team gave me tonight,” said Kanemura, who only allowed one Lions runner to reach third base.

Seibu starter Koji Onuma appeared determined to challenge the Fighters right off the bat. Seven of his first eight pitches to Makoto Kaneko were fastballs, but the Nippon Ham leadoff hitter walked to first after a 146-kph pitch missed the strike zone for ball four.

Kimoto then fouled off five Onuma pitches before slamming a 144-kph fastball into the left-field bleachers.

Onuma retired the next three batters but quickly got into trouble in the second inning. Former Cincinnati Reds outfielder D.T. Cromer rapped a ground ball to the right of Seibu first baseman Alex Cabrera, but the ball bounced off his glove, giving Cromer a free pass to first.

Nippon Ham catcher Toshihiro Noguchi followed up with a single to left field and Onuma walked Tatsuya Ide to load the bases. Kimoto then drove a single down the right-field line, allowing Cromer and Noguchi to score.

The win gave the Fighters a little more breathing room in the standings after losing the first two games of the series against the Pacific League-leading Lions.

“I’m really happy about the way things turned out and I’m glad we were able to get an early lead, especially after what happened the last two nights,” said Kimoto. “We hit the ball well and our pitchers did a great job.”

Hiroshi Shibakusa struck out two Lions batters in the eight inning and Tomokazu Iba shut down Seibu in the ninth.

The Lions gave the Fighters plenty of opportunities to build on their lead. Cromer led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a double to left field off of Seibu reliever Naoki Uchizono.

Noguchi then laid down a bunt right back to Uchizono, but instead of throwing the ball to first base, the right-hander tossed the ball to third as Cromer slid in safely under the tag. Cromer then scored on a wild pitch to give the Fighters a 5-0 lead.

Cromer added one more insurance run in the seventh inning when his single up the middle allowed Michihiro Ogasawara to score from third base.

Just one night after scoring seven runs against the Fighters, nothing seemed to go right for the Lions batters.

Outfielder Kazuhiro Wada led off the top of the second inning with a single to center field, but before he could get into scoring position, Ken Suzuki grounded into a double play.

In the fifth, Wada doubled to right field, but Suzuki struck out and catcher Kosuke Noda grounded out to end the threat.

Only once in the game did the Lions put a pair of runners on base. Hiroaki Ueda singled in the sixth inning and moved to second on Tatsuya Ozeki’s infield hit. But before Seibu could do any damage, Kanemura fanned Hisashi Takayama and Cabrera for the second and third outs.

Hawks 4, Buffaloes 1
Second-year hurler Akichika Yamada held Kintetsu to one run over seven-plus innings and two relievers blanked the Buffs the rest of the way as Daiei won at the Fukuoka Dome.

Yamada gave up six hits and struck out seven to remain unbeaten for his fourth win. Rodney Pedraza worked the ninth for his sixth save.

With the game tied 1-1 in the second, Yusuke Torigoe doubled home the go-ahead run. Kenji Jojima smacked a solo homer in the fourth and the Hawks added another run in the eighth as the Buffaloes fell to their third straight loss.


Swallows 4, Tigers 3
Roberto Petagine whacked his 11th dinger of the year to lead off the ninth inning as Yakult edged Hanshin at Koshien Stadium.

The Swallows went up 3-2 in the eighth on Mitsuru Manaka’s solo homer. But Hanshin tied the game in the bottom of the frame with Atsushi Kataoka’s sacrifice fly. Tigers starter Keiichi Yabu then gave up Petagine’s solo homer in the ninth inning.

Yabu went the distance, allowing four runs on seven hits in taking his first loss against four wins. Swallows hurler Hirotoshi Ishii (3-0) picked up the win in relief of starter Shugo Fujii.

Closer Shingo Takatsu pitched a perfect ninth and earned his eighth save.

Dragons 2, Giants 0
Rookie hurler Daisuke Yamai carried a one-hitter into the sixth inning and four relievers held Yomiuri scoreless the rest of the way as Chunichi beat the Giants at the Nagoya Dome.

Yamai did not let a runner past first in picking up his first win. Closer Eddie Gaillard got his seventh save.

Leo Gomez drove home both runs for the Dragons in the first inning with a double to left field off Giants starter John Wasdin (1-3).

Carp 7, BayStars 5
Tomonori Maeda slammed a go-ahead solo homer in the fifth inning and Hiroshima added a run in the eighth with Tomoaki Kanemoto’s RBI double as the Carp beat Yokohama at Hiroshima Stadium, sending the BayStars to their fifth straight loss.

In the top of the fifth inning, Yokohama’s miniscule outfielder Kazunori Tanaka belted a game-tying solo homer.

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