TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. - Shogo Akiyama got the best of one of the best pitchers in Japan.
Akiyama drove in a pair of runs with a tiebreaking double off Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda in the eighth inning, and the Seibu Lions held on for a 4-2 victory on Tuesday night at Seibu Prince Dome.
“We created a few chances for ourselves, and at the end finally came up with the hit we needed,” Lions manager Norio Tanabe said.
Anthony Seratelli got the Lions started in the decisive frame with a one-out single and went to second after Maeda threw a pickoff attempt away. Ginjro Sumitani singled and Yuji Onizaki drew a walk to load the bases.
Akiyama had to wait while the Carp talked through things on the mound, then lined a double into left to bring two runners home.
“He threw me an inside fastball in my previous at-bat, and I thought he might go inside with a fastball, and I ended up swinging at a change-up on the first pitch,” Akiyama said. “In that situation, striking out was the last thing I wanted to do, so I wanted to get something I could hit.”
Akiyama is enjoying a strong start to the season, hitting .361 with five home runs and 23 RBIs. He’s also been among NPB’s top players during the interleague slate with a .415 average, a pair of homers and seven RBIs.
Akiyama was 2-for-5 on Tuesday.
Seratelli, who scored the tiebreaking run, reached base three times on a 2-for-3 night, also drawing a walk. Sumitani had a pair of hits and drove in another run. Ernesto Mejia was 1-for-4 with an RBI double.
The Lions won their third straight game and extended their current unbeaten run to six games. Seibu is also 7-4 in interleague play with five games left.
“We have all home games remaining on the interleague schedule and want to win as many as we can,” Tanabe said.
Taishi Masuda (1-2) pitched a scoreless inning to earn the win in relief of starter Ken Togame. Tomomi Takahashi worked the ninth for his Pacific League-leading 17th save of the season.
Maeda (4-5) allowed four runs on 11 hits and fell to 4-5 on the season. He struck out four and walked three.
“He pitched a good game,” said Carp outfielder Brad Eldred. “He obviously got tired there at the end and they were able to get a few runs off of him.”
The Carp got on the board first, taking an early lead on Ryuhei Matsuyama’s solo homer in the second.
The Lions came back in the bottom half of the inning. Tomoya Mori doubled to start the inning and went to third on a single by Seratelli. Sumitani drove him in with a game-tying single.
Seibu pushed ahead 2-1 in the third on Mejia’s RBI double, which drove in Hideto Asamura.
The Carp’s Nate Schierholtz connected on a curve ball in the fourth and tied the game with a towering home run to right.
The score held at 2-2 until the Lions broke through in the eighth.
Nakata carries Fighters
Sho Nakata homered for the first time in seven games and drove in all three runs as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters halted a two-game skid with a 3-2 win against the Yomiuri Giants on Tuesday.
Nakata, who leads Japanese baseball with 19 home runs on the year, clubbed a two-run shot off Aaron Poreda (5-3) in the fourth inning to put the Fighters on the scoreboard at Sapporo Dome.
Nakata made it a 3-0 game in the fifth with an RBI single again off Poreda to back Kohei Arihara (3-1), who allowed one earned run on two hits and a pair of walks in 6-2/3 innings. Arihara also struck out five.
“I managed to put a good swing on the ball,” said Nakata, who is second in the Pacific League with 56 RBIs. “The two runs turned out to be pretty important.”
The Giants lost their fourth in a row.
Poreda allowed three earned runs. The southpaw issued three free passes and was called for a balk in the fourth before Nakata went deep to left.
Ryoji Aikawa hit his second homer in the eighth to pull Yomiuri within one, but closer Hirotoshi Masui got the Fighters out of a jam with runners on the corners as Hayato Sakamoto popped up for the third out.
Masui pitchted a scoreless ninth to earn his 16th save.
Hawks 5, Tigers 0
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Fukuoka Softbank’s Nobuhiro Matsuda homered in the third for his 1,000th career hit and Kenji Otonari (5-4) threw a four-hitter with six punchouts and no walks for his second shutout of the season.
Hanshin’s winning streak was halted at four.
Swallows 8, Buffaloes 1
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama hit his Central League-leading 17th homer, a three-run blast in the first inning that keyed Tokyo Yakult’s win against Orix.
Dragons 7, Marines 6
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Kazuhiro Wada’s RBI groundout in the ninth inning scored the deciding run for Chunichi, which sent Chiba Lotte to a season-worst fifth straight defeat.
Eagles 3, BayStars 2 (12)
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten walked off with the win against Yokohama thanks to Wily Mo Pena’s one-out solo shot in the 12th off Yasuaki Yamasaki (1-2).
It was Pena’s third home run of the year.