Rookie southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada pitched eight-plus electric innings of six-hit ball and Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Hiroshi Shibahara both hit two-run homers as the Pacific League-leading Daiei Hawks defeated the Nippon Ham Fighters 5-1 on Thursday.
With two out in the first, Matsunaka connected off Satoru Kanemura (10-7) for his 25th homer of the season after Munenori Kawasaki reached on a single to right in front of a crowd of 30,000 at Tokyo Dome.
Wada (13-5) struck out 11, walked none and kept batters off-balance with a deceptive curve ball, retiring 15 in a row from the second inning before Kazuteru Shimada got a hit in the seventh and later managed to score the Fighters’ only run on a Kuniyuki Kimoto single to right field.
Shibahara added to the damage in the fifth, driving a ball to deep right with a man on before Matsunaka connected for his second drive of the game — a solo shot — to make it 5-0 in the sixth. Matsunaka went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
With the second-place Seibu Lions idle Thursday, the Hawks saw their magic number to clinch the league pennant reduced to two and can claim the title as early as Saturday.
BayStars 4, Carp 1 (10)
In the day’s only Central League game at Hiroshima Stadium, Tyrone Woods’ go-ahead two-run double highlighted a three-run 10th as cellar-dwelling Yokohama beat Hiroshima in an extended game.
Takeharu Kato retired the side in order in the last two innings to post his fourth win against a loss while Hiroshima reliever Katsuhiro Nagakawa (3-3) took the loss.
The scheduled Central League game between the Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants at Koshien Stadium was rained out along with a game between the Yakult Swallows and Chunichi Dragons at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo.
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