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Hawks get back on track with win over Lions

Kyodo

Jason Standridge allowed a run in 6⅔ innings on Sunday, helping the Pacific League-leading Fukuoka Softbank Hawks snap a four-game losing skid with a 3-1 win over the Seibu Lions.

Before 29,431 at Seibu Dome in Saitama Prefecture, Standridge (11-7) equaled his career best in wins after the bullpen bailed him out of a seventh-inning jam. He surrendered three hits and walked two, while striking out nine in a 104-pitch effort that saw the Hawks finish their road trip on a high note.

“It stinks that we didn’t win the series, but we’re going home with confidence and we’ll be fine,” said Standridge.

“Strikeouts are nice, but I’ll take scoreless innings and wins over strikeouts, so it was just a great team effort. We did a great job. Toru (Hosokawa) caught a great game, our bullpen came in and did a good job, and (we) played good defense.”

The win kept the Hawks 2½-games ahead of the second-place Orix Buffaloes.

The Hawks got off the mark in the top of the first off right-hander Ryoma Nogami. Kenta Imamiya walked with one out, stole second and scored on Lee Dae-ho’s two-out single. Lions right-hander Ryoma Nogami (8-9) went away with a first-pitch breaking ball, but the South Korean slugger put a superb swing on it and lined it to center for an RBI single.

“That’s a big confidence booster when you’re a starting pitcher and your team scores the first run of the game,” Standridge said. “It feels good, and whenever you’re pitching with the lead it’s fun.”

The Hawks made it 2-0 on Yuki Yoshimura’s solo home run in the fourth, and Kenji Akashi singled home another run in the seventh to make it 3-0.

Standridge, who had been cruising with just a hit and a walk against him through 6⅔ innings, ran aground in the seventh, when Ernesto Mejia went deep for the 33rd time this season. After a single and a walk put the tying run on, right-hander Yuito Mori came out of the pen to strike out rookie slugger Hotaka Yamakawa.

Ryota Igarashi worked a scoreless eighth, and Dennis Sarfate a scoreless ninth to close it out against his former club and earn his 37th save.

Buffaloes 7, Marines 2

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Lotte intentionally walked the bases loaded with one out in the eighth and the game tied 2-2 and Orix’s Esteban German hit an RBI single that opened the floodgates in a back-breaking five run inning.

Fighters 12, Eagles 10

At Kobo Stadium Miyagi, Atsunori Inaba, who will retire at the end of this season after a stellar career, tied the game in the top of the ninth with a pinch-hit double and Takuya Nakashima singled in two runs as Hokkaido Nippon Ham won a wild see-saw game that saw Tohoku Rakuten twice overcome sizable deficits to take an eighth-inning lead.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Swallows 7, Giants 6 (11)

At Tokyo Dome, Tetsuto Yamada hit his 25th homer to lead off the 11th inning and scored the decisive run as Tokyo Yakult forced extra innings with a two-run ninth and league-leading Yomiuri tied it 6-6 in the 10th.

Carp 3, BayStars 2

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Brad Eldred’s CL-leading 35th home run, a two-run shot, brought Hiroshima from a run down in the eighth inning in a win over Yokohama.

Dragons 4, Tigers 3 (11)

At Koshien Stadium, Shuhei Takahashi’s sacrifice fly brought home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning as Chunichi came from behind to beat Hanshin.