FUKUOKA – Munenori Kawasaki tripled leading off the bottom of the ninth inning and scored the winning run on an infield hit by Nobuhiko Matsunaka as the Softbank Hawks beat the Chiba Lotte Marines 8-7 after blowing a five-run lead on Tuesday night.
Pinch-hitter Noriyoshi Omichi tied the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the eighth, shortly after Lotte rallied for six runs to take a brief lead on six hits, including a go-ahead two-run single from Koichi Hori, and set up a thrilling ending to the game between the top two Pacific League teams.
Earlier, Matsunaka hit a go-ahead double and Julio Zuleta and Kenji Jojima followed with consecutive sacrifice flies in the sixth, before Kawasaki and Batista delivered run-scoring hits in the seventh as the Hawks built a 6-1 lead at Yahoo Dome.
After the Hawks’ bullpen failed to preserve the lead in the top of the eighth in relief of Tsuyoshi Wada, Pedro Feliciano (3-1) worked out of a two-on jam in the ninth for the win.
Soichi Fujita (1-3) took the loss.
Softbank increased its lead over the second-place Marines to four games in the league standings. Both teams have already secured their places in the postseason playoffs.
Fighters 4, Eagles 1
In Sendai, Michihiro Ogasawara and Atsunori Inaba homered to drive in three runs in the third inning as Nippon Ham won its fourth straight game while handing cellar dweller Rakuten its fifth loss in a row.
Ken Kamakura (6-4) scattered eight hits, including a Yoshinori Okihara RBI single in the bottom of the third, in seven innings of work for the win. Hisashi Iwakuma (8-13) picked up his league-worst 13th loss.
Lions at Buffaloes — ppd.
Swallows 3, Giants 2
In Osaka, Alex Ramirez hit a two-run double and Ryuji Miyade followed with a sacrifice fly in the first inning as Yakult went on to hold off Yomiuri for its fourth straight victory.
Ramirez doubled to left after Yomiuri southpaw Hisanori Takahashi (7-8) loaded the bases to start the game at Osaka Dome and Miyade drove in what proved to be the winning run, making a winner of Rick Guttormson (7-5) who pitched six effective innings.
The Giants lost their third straight game and dropped 17 games under .500 for the first time in eight years.
Carp 4, BayStars 2
In Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, Tomonori Maeda hit a two-run homer in a three-run first inning and Koichi Ogata added a solo shot in the seventh, helping Hiroshima stop its three-game losing skid with a victory over Yokohama.
Dragons at Tigers — ppd.
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