Kikuchi throws first complete game for Lions


Seibu Lions left-hander Yusei Kikuchi showed his potential to be one of the best pitchers in the future, throwing his first career complete game in a 6-1 victory over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Thursday.

Kikuchi (3-0), who received offers from eight major league clubs in 2009, had his shutout bid ended when Takeshi Yamasaki hit his 400th career home run with one out in the ninth inning at Seibu Dome.

The designated hitter became the 17th player in Japan and the oldest ever to reach the 400 mark at age 42.

Kikuchi held the Eagles to six hits while walking one and striking out in a 112-pitch outing.

“I never expected I could pitch a complete game so soon,” the 20-year-old said. “I came close to a shutout, but the home run I gave up is a historic one, so I’m fine with that.”

Kikuchi made his professional debut on June 12 and was making his fourth start.

“I had good command of (my) pitches, and (catcher Takanori) Hoshi-san called a great game. I gave myself 99 points out of 100. I don’t know how many starts I’ll get the rest of the season, but I’ll try to win every start,” he added.

Hawks 4, Buffaloes 0

At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Shota Oba pitched a four-hitter for his first shutout in three years as Softbank beat Orix to become the first team in Japan to reach 60 wins this season.

Nobuhiko Matsunaka hit a sacrifice fly off Evan MacLane (1-2) to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the first. Kenji Akashi tripled in two runs in the eighth.

Marines 9, Fighters 9 (9)

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Hokkaido Nippon Ham rallied from an early 8-0 deficit to play out a nine-inning tie with Chiba Lotte.


Swallows 2, BayStars 0

At Jingu Stadium, Katsuki Akagawa (1-0) threw 5⅔ scoreless innings to pick up his first career win as front-running Yakult blanked Yokohama.

Wladimir Balentien hit a solo home run in the fourth off Brent Leach (1-3), his CL-leading 24th and third in as many nights.

Dragons 2, Giants 1

At Nagoya Dome, Kazuhiro Wada hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning off Jumpei Ono (2-1) as Chunichi rallied to beat Yomiuri.

Reliever Masato Kobayashi (4-0) pitched a scoreless seventh in relief of Enyelbert Soto. Hitoki Iwase got the final two outs for his 19th save.

Carp 5, Tigers 4

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Yoshiyuki Ishihara broke a 4-4 tie with an RBI double in the eighth inning as Hiroshima completed a three-game sweep of Hanshin.