SENDAI – Kenichi Nakata threw one-run ball and struck out eight over seven innings to lead the front-running Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in a 9-2 rout of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Saturday.
With their sixth consecutive victory, the Hawks saw their magic number to clinch the pennant drop to four. Nakata (8-6) scattered seven hits and walked none in a 108-pitch outing.
Kenji Akashi got the ball rolling with a two-run homer in the third before Rakuten came within one run on a Ginji Akaminai RBI single in the fourth.
But Softbank opened the floodgates when it batted around in a four-run fifth, featuring Nobuhiro Matsuda’s two-run single, at Kobo Stadium.
Yuki Yanagita had a sixth-inning leadoff blast, and Kenta Imamiya and Matsuda tacked on an RBI triple and run-scoring single in the seventh and eighth, respectively.
Buffaloes 6, Marines 2
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Ryoichi Adachi had a two-run triple in a three-run first inning and a leadoff blast in the fourth for Orix.
The Buffaloes’ Yuki Nishi (7-6) limited the damage to one run in six innings, and Orix romped over Chiba Lotte to move into fifth place.
Lions 9, Fighters 8 (11)
At Tokorozawa’s Seibu Prince Dome, Takeya Nakamura hit a dramatic two-run walk-off home run — his league-leading 37th — off reliever Naoki Miyanishi (3-3) in the 11th inning to lift Seibu to a sayonara victory over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
The Fighters lost their fourth in a row.
Giants 6, BayStars 3
At Tokyo Dome, Shuichi Murata hit a tiebreaking homer off reliever Kazuki Mishima (5-5) and pinch hitter Leslie Anderson iced it with a three-run blast in the sixth inning as Yomiuri downed Yokohama.
Rookie Chiaki Tone (1-1) got his first career win.
Dragons 3, Swallows 2
At Nagoya Dome, pinch hitter Michihiro Ogasawara gave his team the lead with a tiebreaking RBI in the sixth inning as Chunichi held off Tokyo Yakult.
Drew Naylor (3-3) yielded two runs in six innings of the win. Takuya Asao posted his first save in two seasons.
Tigers 2, Carp 2 (12)
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin played Hiroshima to a tie and regained a share of first place with the same winning percentage as Yakult.
Brad Eldred drove in both runs for Hiroshima — a sacrifice fly and a solo homer.
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