Mejia leads charge as Lions rally past Hawks


Ernesto Mejia belted a pair of home runs and drove in three runs as the Seibu Lions beat the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 8-6 on Saturday afternoon for their second straight win since the restart of league play.

Before a crowd of 31,447 at Seibu Dome in Saitama Prefecture, the Lions came to bat in the first inning and already trailing by three runs. Shogo Akiyama, as he would all afternoon, sparked Seibu’s attack by reaching on an infield single. With two outs, Mejia hit his seventh homer since joining the Lions this summer from the Atlanta Braves organization to trim the Hawks’ lead to a run.

“I’m very happy to help the team some way,” said Mejia, who went 2-for-4 to leave his batting average at .324. “We’re just trying to win more games, and just try and enjoy every game with all these great teammates I have. It’s been very good so far.”

After Akira Nakamura’s solo homer in the second made it 4-2 Hawks, the bottom of the Lions’ order loaded the bases with one out against veteran right-hander Kenichi Nakata. Akiyama singled in one run, another came home on a ground out to tie it and Takumi Kuriyama’s two-out single put Seibu in front.

Ryoma Nogami started for Seibu but was battered for four runs in two innings. His replacement, right-hander Ryohei Fujiwara (2-2) gave up a leadoff homer to young Hawks star Yuki Yanagita in the third, but that was the only run he allowed as he collected the win after three innings of impressive relief.

“The bullpen, starting with Fujiwara, did a great job for us today, shutting them down and that made the difference for us,” said interim Seibu manager Norio Tanabe.

Akiyama hit his third homer of the year in the sixth, and Mejia went deep in the seventh to help the Lions pull away. Lefty closer Tomomi Takahashi struck out the Hawks in order in the ninth to earn his 14th save as the win moved the Lions out of a tie for last place in the Pacific League and into fifth.

Buffaloes 4, Marines 3

At QVC Marine Field, Esteban German homered and drove in three runs and right-hander Takahiro Matsuba (5-1) allowed a run in 5⅓ innings as PL-leading Orix beat Chiba Lotte for the second straight day.

Fighters 2, Eagles 1

At Sapporo Dome, 23-year-old right-hander Masaru Nakamura (3-0) allowed two hits and two walks over 6⅔ scoreless innings, and designated hitter Shohei Otani, who is 7-1 as a pitcher this season, had three hits and sparked the winning rally with a sixth-inning leadoff single as Hokkaido Nippon Ham defeated Tohoku Rakuten and knocked the Eagles into last place.


Dragons 2, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Daisuke Yamai (7-0) allowed a run in eight innings to remain unbeaten on the season, and Masahiko Morino’s RBI single broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning as Chunichi defeated Hanshin.

BayStars 7, Carp 4

At Yokohama Stadium, cellar-dwelling Yokohama sank second-place Hiroshima with a three-home run salvo as Taketoshi Goto, Yuliesky Gurriel and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo each went deep in support of starter Guillermo Moscoso (4-5). Right-hander Bryan Bullington (7-6) took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned, in three innings.

Giants 9, Swallows 0

At Komachi Stadium, Toshiya Sugiuchi (6-3) allowed five hits and a walk over seven innings, two relievers completed a six-hit shutout, and Hisayoshi Chono drove in four runs as Yomiuri resumed league play by overrunning host Tokyo Yakult.