Eagles’ Tanaka improves to 19-0 on season, wins 23rd straight decision


Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs in seven innings on Friday to win his 23rd consecutive decision as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles defeated the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 11-6.

Tanaka (19-0) surrendered seven hits and issued two walks, while striking out six. He went into the bottom of the sixth with a 9-0 lead, when the Hawks broke up the shutout.

“My form wasn’t good at all tonight, so I have my teammates to thank,” Tanaka said. “I had a tough time out there, so it’s a good thing we won.”

The Pacific League-leading Eagles opened the scoring in the top of the first against Hawks lefty Kazuyuki Hoashi (7-7). For the second straight day, Andruw Jones broke the ice with a first-inning RBI single. Casey McGehee’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0 and Shintaro Masuda capped the three-run inning with an RBI double.

The 24-year-old Tanaka, who allowed an unearned run in the seventh, extended his record for consecutive winning decisions, while winning his 12th straight start.

The Eagles suffered some tense moments in the late innings as the Hawks staged a three-run rally against the bullpen in the eighth and threatened to score in the ninth.

Marines 8, Fighters 2

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Takahiro Matsunaga (3-1), Chiba Lotte’s first-round draft choice last autumn, allowed a run in five innings to earn the win in his first start.

Katsuya Kakunaka tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first and broke the tie by drawing a bases-loaded walk in the third.

Buffaloes 6, Lions 2 (10)

At Seibu Dome, Orix closer Yoshihisa Hirano (2-4) allowed Seibu to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth, but then pitched out of no-out, bases-loaded jam to force extra innings.

Naotaka Takehara doubled in three runs in the top of the 10th off Seibu closer Dennis Sarfate (5-1), and former Lion Takuya Hara added an RBI single.


Giants 3, Dragons 2

At Tokyo Dome, league-leading Yomiuri overcame a two-run deficit on a two-run, second-inning double by Kazunari Sanematsu, and took the lead against Chunichi on Shuichi Murata’s third-inning RBI single.

D.J. Houlton (5-4) allowed two runs in seven innings to earn his first win since May, while closer Kentaro Nishimura picked up his 33rd save.

Carp 3, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Yusuke Nomura (9-4) allowed three hits in eight innings and drove in a run as Hiroshima broke a 20-inning scoreless streak, while blanking Hanshin on four hits.

Ryuhei Matsuyama broke the Carp’s string of offensive zeroes with a third-inning RBI single. With one out, Nomura singled in another run against Randy Messenger (11-7), while an error allowed the third run to cross.