Okada carries Fighters past Buffaloes


Struggling 2010 Pacific League home run leader Takahiro Okada connected off Yu Darvish and went 4-for-5 with three RBIs as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 4-2 on Friday.

After Darvish’s departure, a two-out RBI triple by Mitsutaka Goto gave Orix a 3-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning and Okada followed with a base hit at Sapporo Dome.

Okada also hit a solo homer, his 14th of the season, in the fourth and an RBI double in the fifth.

“I can put up with tough times because I have a big day like this once in a while,” Okada said of his first career four-hit game. “I’ve disappointed the team all year, so I want to contribute with my bat at least in the remaining 19 games.”

Darvish got his third no-decision in a row after giving up two runs on seven hits in eight innings. The 25-year-old ace was relieved by Hirotoshi Masui (0-4) after his pitch count reached 130 with the game tied at 2-all.

Darvish has not won in four starts in September, despite holding his opponents to only four runs over 32 innings.

“Darvish did more than enough today as the starting pitcher,” said Fighters manager Masataka Nashida. “We couldn’t make him happy. We want to win when he pitches, but we haven’t been able to do that.”

Nippon Ham tied the game twice, first on a sacrifice fly by Sho Nakata in the fourth and again on Taiwanese leadoff man Yang Dai-kang’s home run in the fifth.

Yoshihisa Hirano (6-1) won in relief. Mamoru Kishida closed out the ninth for his 30th save.

The Buffaloes have won six of their last seven games. The Fighters have lost five of six while tying one.

Hawks 3, Eagles 2

At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Kenji Otonari outpitched Hisashi Iwakuma as PL leader Fukuoka Softbank handed Tohoku Rakuten its fifth consecutive loss.

With the win, coupled with a loss by second-place Nippon Ham, Softbank lowered its magic number to clinch the league title to 10.

Otonari (2-0) allowed two runs and seven hits in 6-2/3 innings. Munenori Kawasaki hit his first homer of the season, a solo shot in the third off Iwakuma (6-5).

Lions 6, Marines 4

At Seibu Dome, Ginjiro Sumitani hit a tiebreaking triple in the eighth inning as Seibu beat Chiba Lotte to extend its unbeaten streak to eight games.

Takumi Kuriyama went 3-for-5 with an RBI for Seibu, which rallied from an early 4-0 deficit. The Marines dropped seven straight, its longest losing streak this season.


Dragons 6, Swallows 2

At Nagoya Dome, Hirokazu Ibata singled in the go-ahead run in a four-run eighth inning as Chunichi won its fourth straight game and moved within 2-1/2 games of CL leader Tokyo Yakult.

Swallows reliever Kentaro Kyuko (5-2) retired the first two batters in the eighth but Chunichi pounded out five hits, three of them doubles, from there to break the game open. Takuya Asao (4-2) won in relief.

BayStars 1, Carp 0

At Yokohama Stadium, Futoshi Kobayashi and four relievers combined on a six-hit shutout as Yokohama needed just two hits to beat Hiroshima.

Kobayashi (2-3) went 6-1/3 innings and Shun Yamaguchi picked up his 28th save. Yokohama scored in the second on back-to-back doubles by Shuichi Murata and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, off Bryan Bullington (12-10).

Tigers 4, Giants 4 (9)

At Koshien Stadium, Takashi Toritani delivered a game-tying single with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, his third hit of the afternoon, as Hanshin earned a nine-inning tie with Yomiuri.