Seibu slugger Alex Cabrera homered for the third straight game to increase his PL-leading home run total to 50, but it was not enough for the Lions as the Daiei Hawks snapped its losing streak against Seibu at six with a 4-2 win at the Seibu Dome.
Tied 1-1 in the ninth, Nobuhiko Matsunaka drilled a tie-breaking three-run homer off Seibu starter Chang Chin-chia (8-3) for the go-ahead runs.
Cabrera is only the seventh player in Japanese Pro Baseball history to notch 50 homers in one season.
He also became the fastest ever to reach 50 in his 117th game, surpassing former Yomiuri Giants’ Sadaharu Oh and Tuffy Rhodes of the Kintetsu Buffaloes who hit their 50th homers in their 122nd games, in 1964 and 2001, respectively.
Chang was tagged with the loss, giving up four runs on three hits over the distance.
Kenichi Wakatabe (9-7) tossed seven-hit ball over 8 1/3 innings for the win. He struck out six and walked none.
Katsunori Okamoto got the final two outs for his fourth save.
Trailing the Hawks 1-0 in the third inning, Cabrera slammed a solo homer into the center-left field bleachers to tie the game.
With the win, coupled with the loss of the Kintetsu Buffaloes, the Hawks climbed into second place in the PL standings.
The Lions’ “magic number” is at eight.
Fighters 5, Buffaloes 1
Nippon Ham lefty Itsuki Shoda (6-9) tossed a seven-hitter over the distance and Michihiro Ogasawara connected for a two-run clout in a go-ahead three-run sixth as the Fighters beat Kintetsu at the Tokyo Dome.
Shoda allowed one run on a homer by Kintetsu slugger Tuffy Rhodes, his 42nd clout of the year, and picked up his third complete-game win of the season.
The Buffs lost their third straight and fell to third place in the standings.
Marines 5, BlueWave 2
Naoyuki Shimizu (12-8) held Orix to two runs over right-plus innings for the win and closer Masahide Kobayashi worked the final inning to extend his consecutive “save point” (total number of saves and wins in relief) to 24 as Lotte won at Green Stadium Kobe.
Swallows catching up
Tetsuya Iida singled home the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Yakult Swallows beat the Hanshin Tigers 3-2 at Jingu Stadium with its sixth “sayonara” victory of the season.
With the win, together with the loss of Central League-leading Giants, the Swallows cut Yomiuri’s lead to 5 1/2 games and terminated the Giants’ “magic number” for winning the pennant.
With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the ninth, Hanshin took the lead with Atsushi Kataoka’s RBI single up the middle off Swallows reliever Hirotoshi Ishii (6-2).
In the bottom of the frame, however, the Swallows tied the game with Atsunori Inaba’s sacrifice fly before Iida followed with a game-winning RBI single to end the game.
Hanshin hurler Kei Igawa (11-8) went the distance, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven in taking the loss.
BayStars 3, Carp 2
Yokohama scored the game-tying run on a throwing error and went ahead with Makoto Fukumoto’s sacrifice fly in the eighth to beat Hiroshima at the Big N Stadium in Nagasaki Prefecture.
Chros Holt (5-7) picked up his first win in two months, scattering four runs and walking three over eight innings.
Takashi Saito walked two and gave up a hit in the ninth but earned his 19th save.
Carp lefty Ken Takahashi limited the BayStars to one earned run on three hits and struck out seven over the distance in a losing effort as Hiroshima’s win streak came to a halt at four.
Dragons 6, Giants 0
Chunichi hurler Kenshi Kawakami fanned nine batters in pitching a six-hit shutout as the Dragons beat CL-leading Yomiuri at the Nagoya Dome.
Kawakami (10-4), who pitched a no-hitter in his last outing against the Giants, walked none for his third shutout win of the season and first double-digit win in four years.
Yomiuri suffered its fourth straight loss.
BlueWave lose Koo
KOBE (Kyodo) Orix BlueWave South Korean southpaw Koo Dae Sung was taken off the active roster with an injured left leg and may require surgery, team officials of the Pacific League club said Tuesday.
Orix chief trainer Akihiro Izutsu said Koo complained of a pain in his leg on Sunday and that the injury, thought to be groin related, may keep him out for the remainder of the season.
“There is a possibility that it’s a sports hernia and he’ll have to undergo treatment here in Japan,” Izutsu said.
Koo currently has a record of 5-7 with a 2.52 ERA, the second best in the PL.
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