TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Pref. — Kan Otake might’ve been on the road, but it probably felt like a home game at times.
Akihiro Higashide drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, and the Hiroshima Carp sent Otake home a winner with a 6-2 victory over the Seibu Lions in front of a crowd of 33,911, which included a sizable contingent of Carp supporters, on Saturday at Seibu Dome.
“I’m really happy that so many Carp fans came out to Seibu Dome,” Otake said.
Otake (1-0) earned his first victory of the season in his second start since returning from a shoulder injury. He didn’t have his best stuff, but pitched six innings and allowed two runs on five hits with three strikeouts.
“I just took it one batter at a time,” Otake said. “I felt good and it was easier to pitch once we got the lead.”
The win is his first since Oct. 10, 2009.
“I felt like I needed to get back to the ichi-gun as fast as possible,” Otake said. “I felt good about my pitching today.”
Otake got the win despite walking six and allowing a number of baserunners. The Lions failed to take advantage of their many opportunities and left 10 runners on base.
The game was Hiroshima’s first since the team learned it would lose slugger Kenta Kurihara for up to four weeks with a forearm injury.
“It’s up to everyone to step up and help us win games,” Higashide said.
Seibu’s Hiroyuki Nakajima and Dee Brown each drove in a run during the first inning to give the Lions a 2-0 lead that they took into the fifth.
The Carp got their first two batters of the inning on base safely, and Tetsuya Kokubo hit an RBI single to cut the lead in half.
Higashide stepped to the plate with runners on second and third and lined a single into left to drive them home, giving the Carp a 3-2 advantage.
Hiroshima’s Yoshiyuki Ishihara padded the lead with a solo shot to center in the seventh, and Shigenobu Shima added a two-run homer later in the inning.
“Ishihara’s home run came at a good time for us,” Carp manager Kenjiro Nomura said.
The win comes on the heels of Hiroshima’s 12-7 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Thursday night, a game that took 5 hours and 18 minutes to complete. The Carp wrapped things up in a brisk-by-comparison 3:20 on Saturday.
The loss puts a dent in Seibu’s shot at claiming the interleague title.
The Lions entered the day tied with the Orix Buffaloes for the lead in the standings and held the tiebreaker (by virtue of finishing with a better interleague record last season). A two-game sweep would’ve made them the champions.
Instead their loss, coupled with Orix’s rout of the Yokohama BayStars, means the Buffaloes will win the midseason crown with another victory Sunday. Seibu would take the title with a win and an Orix loss.
Lions starter Kazuyuki Hoashi couldn’t shake free of his recent struggles and allowed six runs on nine hits and struck out three over 6 2/3 innings.
After getting off to a strong start, Hoashi (6-5) has lost his last three outings, allowing 16 runs over 18 innings during that span.
Both teams wrap up their interleague schedules on Sunday in the final game of their two-game series.
SAPPORO (Kyodo) Yu Darvish picked up his first win since May 1 with seven shutout innings, Atsunori Inaba homered twice and drove in five runs and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters routed the Chunichi Dragons 9-0 on Saturday.
Darvish (5-4), who lowered his ERA to a Pacific League-best 1.55, allowed three hits, struck out seven and walked one in interleague play at Sapporo Dome.
The right-hander had missed his last scheduled start with discomfort in his right knee.
Kenichi Nakata (1-2) took the loss after giving up five runs in four innings.
Swallows 4, Eagles 1
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Masanori Ishikawa outpitched Hisashi Iwakuma with six effective innings, Hiroyasu Tanaka and Aaron Guiel each had two RBIs, and Tokyo Yakult beat Tohoku Rakuten.
Tigers 4, Marines 2
At Chiba Marine Stadium, Craig Brazell, Kenji Johjima and Tomoaki Kanemoto each hit homers and Yasutomo Kubo threw one-run ball over eight innings, leading Hanshin to a win over Chiba Lotte.
Buffaloes 7, BayStars 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Alex Cabrera delivered a go-ahead, three-run homer and drove in four runs as Orix sent Yokohama to its eighth consecutive defeat in a rout.
Hawks 4, Giants 2
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Tsuyoshi Wada threw seven shutout innings en route to winning his fifth consecutive start as Softbank beat Yomiuri to win its third in a row.