FUKUOKA – Julio Zuleta hit a grand slam in the sixth inning Tuesday as the Pacific League-leading Softbank Hawks overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 4-3 for their first victory in three games.
Tony Batista hit a two-out double and Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Kenji Jojima drew back-to-back walks to set up the heroics by Zuleta, who drove a 2-2 forkball from Yukiya Yokoyama (1-4) into the left-field stands of Yahoo Dome.
Zuleta’s 30th homer of the season made a winner of Kazumi Saito (11-0), who won his 11th straight decision after allowing three runs on five hits and four walks in seven innings of work.
Takahiro Mahara worked the ninth for his 11th save as the Hawks kept their four-game lead over the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines.
Nippon Ham took a 2-0 lead in the first on a run-scoring single by Fernando Seguignol and an Atsunori Inaba RBI grounder. Shinji Takahashi singled home a run to make it 3-0 in the top of the sixth.
Marines 15, Eagles 1
At Chiba Marine Stadium, Akira Otsuka, Matt Franco and Toshiaki Imae drove in two runs apiece in an eight-run second inning as Chiba Lotte went on to hand Tohoku Rakuten its first loss in three games.
Lotte sent 12 batters to the plate and pounded out eight hits off Gary Rath (3-7) and reliever Shinji Taninaka in the second. Tomoya Satozaki had an RBI single in a four-run fourth and then completed the Marines’ rout with a three-run homer in the seventh.
Buffaloes 2, Lions 1
At Skymark Stadium, Jeremy Powell threw 7 1/3 shutout innings and Hirotoshi Kitagawa hit a clutch double, helping Orix blank Seibu.
Powell (10-9) held Seibu to five hits and a walk in winning his fourth straight start as he has gone 30 1/3 innings without allowing a run.
Swallows 5, Dragons 2
At Nagoya Dome, Rick Guttormson pitched 6 1/3 effective innings and helped his own cause with a homer as Yakult snapped Chunichi’s 12-game unbeaten run.
Yakult went ahead in the first inning on a two-run double by Alex Ramirez off Masahiro Yamamoto (6-5) and added a run on an Atsuya Furuta RBI single in the third before a run-scoring single from Hirokazu Ibata cut the Swallows’ lead to two runs in the bottom half.
The Swallows made it 5-1 in the seventh on Guttormson’s leadoff shot and an RBI single by Ryuji Miyade.
BayStars 3, Tigers 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Ken Kadokura outpitched Kei Igawa and drew a tiebreaking bases-loaded walk as the BayStars claimed their first victory after the All-Star break by holding off league leader Hanshin.
Carp 13, Giants 12 (11)
At Hiroshima Stadium, Yoshiyuki Ishihara hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning as Hiroshima sent Yomiuri to its fifth straight loss in a slugfest that featured 35 hits, nine homers and 15 pitchers.
Ishihara connected off Tsuyoshi Jobe (0-1) for the game-ending shot after Ichiro Horita gave Yomiuri a 12-11 lead with a sacrifice fly in the top of the 11th inning.
Greg Larocca broke a 9-9 tie with a two-run single in the eighth but the Giants retied the game in the ninth on Tomohiro Nioka’s second homer of the night. Takahiro Arai set a career
high with his league-leading 30th homer.
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