Darvish, Fighters climb out of cellar


Yu Darvish threw one-run ball over seven innings to win his third straight start and Atsunori Inaba drove in four runs as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines 10-4 on Saturday.

The Fighters moved out of last into fifth place in the Pacific League standings for the first time since March 27.

Darvish (7-4) kept Lotte scoreless until Toshiaki Imae hit an RBI single with two outs in the seventh at Sapporo Dome. The right-hander scattered eight hits, all singles, struck out seven and walked three.

Inaba hit an RBI single in the first and added a three-run double in the second for a 4-0 lead. Kensuke Tanaka singled in a run in the third and scored three runs. Eiichi Koyano hit a three-run double in the eighth.

“We couldn’t lose a game Darvish was pitching,” Inaba said. “Darvish managed to keep Lotte scoreless even though he wasn’t at his best. I’m glad we could give him some run support.”

“We are still in fifth place so we have to fight hard to win one game at a time.”

Bill Murphy (6-1), who had won his previous six starts, gave up seven runs over seven innings. Tsuyoshi Nishioka went 4-for-5 with an RBI for the Marines.

Hawks 2, Eagles 1

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Tsuyoshi Wada gave up one run over six innings, Jose Ortiz and Hiroshi Shibahara hit back-to-back RBI singles in the second and Fukuoka Softbank edged Tohoku Rakuten for its third straight win.

Wada (10-4) allowed five hits and struck out four to tie Saitama Seibu Lions pitcher Hideaki Wakui for the most wins in Japanese baseball. The left-hander reached double-digit wins for the first time in three seasons.

Takahiro Mahara struck out three in the ninth for his 17th save. Satoshi Nagai (4-5) gave up two runs in eight innings of the loss.

The Eagles dropped to last place in the PL standings.

Buffaloes 7, Lions 5

At Seibu Dome, Takahiro Okada went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs and Satoshi Komatsu allowed two runs over six innings as Orix downed Saitama Seibu.

Okada hit an RBI single in a three-run first and added a three-run drive in a four-run fifth, pushing the Buffaloes’ lead to 6-0. Hirotoshi Kitagawa followed Okada with a blast of his own to cap the big inning.

Mamoru Kishida threw two scoreless innings for his second save. Kazuyuki Hoashi (7-6) was chased after allowing seven runs in 4 2/3 innings. Yasuyuki Kataoka and Takahiko G.G. Sato homered for the Lions.


Dragons 1, Carp 0

At Nagoya Dome, Kenichi Nakata tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings, keeping the opposition off-balance with a nasty breaking ball as Chunichi sent Hiroshima to its fifth loss in a row.

Nakata (2-2) allowed three singles and a double, struck out eight and walked three. Hitoki Iwase worked his team out of a two-on jam, getting the final two outs in the ninth for his 21st save. Giancarlo Alvarado (1-4) took the loss, despite yielding one run and three hits in eight innings.

Masahiro Araki hit a leadoff double in the first and moved to third on Atsushi Fujii’s groundout before coming home on Masahiko Morino’s sac fly to left.

Swallows 4, Tigers 2

At Jingu Stadium, Yasushi Iihara hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning as Tokyo Yakult rallied to beat Hanshin.

Iihara went deep to right-center and Josh Whitesell added a solo blast, both off Ken Nishimura (4-1), for his first homer in Japan. Iihara had a tying RBI double in the fifth.

Kenichi Matsuoka (1-1) won in relief. Lim Chang Yong threw a perfect ninth for his 13th save. The Swallows ended a five-game losing skid against Hanshin, which saw its winning streak snapped at three games.