Rakuten ace Masahiro Tanaka turned the tables on the Pacific League-leading Seibu Lions on Sunday, going the distance in a 9-2 Eagles victory.
Tanaka, who had been beaten up in his two starts this season against Seibu, scattered eight hits and two walks, while striking out five in a 116-pitch effort. The Eagles’ fourth-straight win lifted them into fourth place ahead of the Lotte Marines. The Lions remained in first place, leading the Nippon Ham Fighters on winning percentage.
“Two times, the Seibu lineup whipped me, but today we scored early and I was able to relax and keep them (the Lions) under control without throwing too many pitches,” said Tanaka, who improved to 8-4.
“I got so much help from everyone today.”
Lions reliever Micheal Nakamura (0-3) was called on to make a spot start for the second straight Sunday. A week after allowing a run in four innings in a 2-1 Seibu victory over Lotte, the Eagles socked it to him for four runs, two earned, in three innings.
Kazuya Fujita singled with one out in the first, went to third on a Kazuo Matsui double and opened the scoring on a Jose Fernandez sacrifice fly. Ginji Akaminai doubled in Matsui to make it 2-0. An error and a wild pitch by Nakamura helped the Eagles to two more runs in the second, and the hosts never looked back.
Fighters 2, Buffaloes 0
At Kyocera Dome, Nippon Ham’s Masaru Nakamura (2-0) worked seven innings to win his second straight start. Making effective use of his breaking pitches, the 20-year-old right-hander held Orix to four hits to outduel 24-year-old rookie Tomoyuki Kaida (0-1).
Yoshio Itoi and Yang Dai-kang each singled in a run in the first inning, but it was all the run support Nakamura needed. Hisashi Takeda worked the ninth for the Fighters to record his 24th save.
Hawks 3, Marines 0
At Yahoo Dome, Softbank’s Wily Mo Pena belted a three-run homer in the third inning to account for all the scoring as teenage rookie Shota Takeda (5-1) and three relievers combined on a seven-hit shutout of Lotte.
The Marines loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but Takeda got Tadahito Iguchi to hit into a double play to end the inning as Lotte extended its worst losing streak this season to eight games.
Tigers 7, Dragons 0
At Nagoya Dome, second-year Hanshin right-hander Akira Iwamoto allowed two hits in six innings to win his top-fight debut. The 19-year-old walked one batter and struck out four, and four relievers completed the three-hit shutout.
Leadoff man Hiroki Uemoto went 4-for-5 and scored three runs, including the game’s first, when Matt Murton singled him home in the top of the first. Cleanup hitter Ryota Arai and Craig Brazell each singled in a run in the third.
BayStars 3, Carp 3, 10 innings
At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima’s Eishin Soyogi and Brad Eldred each doubled in a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Carp the lead, but DeNA tied it in the top of the ninth against closer Kam Mickolio as the teams played to a tie in 10 innings.
Sho Aranami led off the ninth, was sacrificed to second and scored on an error by second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi. The Carp have made 98 errors this season, the highest total in Japan.
Swallows 4, Giants 4, 10 innings
At Hard Off Eco Stadium, Yomiuri pinch hitter Yoshinobu Takahashi hit a game-tying, three-run double in the sixth inning and the Giants added a run in the seventh but couldn’t hold the lead as they played to a 10-inning tie in Niigata with host Yakult.
Swallows shortstop Shingo Kawabata opened the scoring in the fourth with a three-run homer, and Wladimir Balentien tied the game for good in the eighth with an RBI single off tough lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi.