TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. – The Seibu Lions overturned a three-run, ninth-inning deficit to beat the Pacific League-leading Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 12-11 on Sunday.
Takumi Kuriyama’s two-run sayonara single off Eagles closer Darrell Rasner (1-2) capped a wild slugfest at Seibu Dome. Trailing by a run with two outs and runners at second and third, the Lions’ captain singled to right.
Yuji Onizaki scored the winning run from second in a home-plate collision that jarred the ball loose from Eagles catcher Motohiro Shima.
It was the second straight night in which the Lions walked off winners after a play at the plate.
Kazuo Matsui and Casey McGehee each hit a three-run homer for the visitors in the late innings to put the Eagles in the driver’s seat, but Rasner could not get out of the ninth after loading the bases with no outs.
Matsui, Seibu’s biggest star at the time he moved to the major leagues in 2004, tied the game 8-8 in the seventh with his ninth home run of the year.
McGehee, who had already driven in one run and scored another, followed suit in the eighth off Randy Williams. Lions right-hander Tatsushi Masuda (2-2) worked a scoreless ninth to earn the win in relief.
The loss saw the Eagles’ lead over the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines shrink to 4½ games.
“The pitchers gave up a lot of runs, and the fielders, including myself, made some mistakes,” said Kuriyama, whose inability to hold on to a tricky fly in left field resulted in an Eagles run in the third. “But we have to pick each other up and we did that in the end.”
Rasner had to retire the bottom of the Lions’ order to earn his save and on a night when few pitchers had consistent command, he couldn’t get it done.
“It looked like a very steep hill to climb for the tail end of the order,” Lions manager Hisanobu Watanabe said. “But they never quit and put together a rally in baby steps.”
Yutaro Osaki led off with a single, and pinch hitter Masato Kumashiro lined a single to center to bring the tying run to the plate with no outs.
Ginjiro Sumitani loaded the bases with a flare to right for a single and Onizaki drew a bases-loaded walk. Esteban German, whose second-inning grand slam had been the big blow of the game until the Eagles’ late fireworks, followed with a single that drove in another run and put the winning run at second.
After a double play with the infield in, Onizaki barreled around the bases on Kuriyama’s single to right fielder Takero Okajima. The outfielder threw a strike, but failed for the second straight night to throw out the winning run at the plate.
PL batting leader Ginji Akaminai broke the ice with a two-run, first-inning double off Seibu right-hander Takayuki Kishi, but the Lions turned the game on its head in a six-run second against Brandon Duckworth.
Sumitani and Onizaki tied the game with back-to-back, no-out, bases-loaded singles, and German followed with his second home run of the season, a grand slam over the center-field fence.
McGehee’s one-out single, a sinking liner Kuriyama failed to hang on to, in the third drove home Akaminai from second to trim the Lions’ lead to 6-3.
But Duckworth’s command wasn’t good enough to keep Seibu off the scoreboard as Onizaki chased him with a two-out double that left two men in scoring position.
Duckworth was charged with seven earned runs on seven hits, a walk and a hit batsman. He struck out four, although one of those batters reached on a wild pitch and came around to score.
Kishi, who had won his last five starts, gave up four runs in five innings. He was set up for the win before Matsui spoiled that scenario.
Hawks 7, Fighters 2
At Obihiro-no-Mori Stadium, right-hander Edison Barrios, who Fukuoka Softbank signed from the Kansai Independent League last year, won his PL debut, allowing two runs in five innings in a win over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Seiichi Uchikawa drew first blood with a first-inning RBI single off 2012 PL MVP Mitsuo Yoshikawa (6-11), and Yuya Hasegawa put the game away with three RBIs.
Fighters rookie Shohei Otani started in right field and pitched a scoreless eighth inning. He went 1-for-4 with a single.
Marines 3, Buffaloes 1
At QVC Marine Field, Chiba Lotte lefty Takuya Furuta (6-1) allowed a run in 5⅓ innings to win his sixth straight decision behind a couple of RBIs from Taichi Suzuki and another by veteran catcher Tomoya Satozaki.
Furuya, having a breakout season as a starter at the age of 32, allowed three hits, a walk and hit a batter while striking out four. Closer Naoya Masuda worked a scoreless ninth to record his PL-leading 28th save.
Dragons 10, Giants 4
At Tokyo Dome, Ryosuke Hirata homered for the third straight game and drove in four runs as Chunichi beat CL-leading Yomiuri to take the rubber match of their three-game series.
Daisuke Yamai (5-4) allowed three runs, two earned, in seven innings to pick up the win. The Dragons bludgeoned rookie right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano (10-4) for seven runs in 2⅓ innings at Tokyo Dome.
BayStars 6, Carp 2
At Yokohama Stadium, Takayuki Kajitani’s fourth home run in four games, a three-run blast in the second inning, broke a 1-1 tie as Yokohama came from behind to defeat Hiroshima behind eight innings of two-run ball from Yuki Yoshiguni (2-0).
The 21-year-old right-hander gave up six hits, walked two and hit a batter, while striking out five. The pitcher put the game out of reach with a two-run, fourth-inning single.
Tigers 6, Swallows 2
At Kyocera Dome, marquee rookie Shintaro Fujinami (9-4) allowed two runs in six innings to earn the win as Hanshin sent Tokyo Yakult to its fourth straight defeat.
The Tigers came from a run down in the second inning, when Takahiro Arai tied it with a solo homer and Hanshin got RBI singles from Kentaro Sekimoto and Tsuyoshi Nishioka.