SENDAI – Slugging ace pitcher Shohei Otani had three hits, while allowing a run in seven innings for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in a 12-3 whipping of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Pacific League on Sunday afternoon.
Getting a jump on the interleague season which starts Tuesday, the Fighters opted to go without a designated hitter, so Otani, who typically fills the role a few times a week between starts, could bat sixth. Otani went 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and two runs.
At packed Kobo Stadium, Otani (3-4) allowed four hits and two walks, while striking out six en route to winning his second straight start.
“I didn’t have a good tempo to start with, but the fielders making the plays behind me and scoring for me helped me find my rhythm,” said Otani, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games and raised his batting average on the season to .359.
“It (the streak) is just a random thing. My focus is on getting good swings in each and every at-bat.”
Cleanup hitter Sho Nakata gave Otani a lead in the first with the first of his two home runs, a two-run shot off Eagles starter Yoshinao Kamata (3-4) and added a three-run shot in the second.
For the second straight game, Nippon Ham’s Brandon Laird homered twice. He homered to lead off the second and after Otani singled to open the sixth, he hit a towering shot for his l7th of the season.
Otani singled with a man on and scored in a two-run sixth and legged out an RBI double in the seventh. Otani had batted as a starting pitcher in four previous interleague games, going 1-for-10 with a double.
Hawks 6, Marines 4
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Nobuhiro Matsuda’s two-run, ninth-inning home run off Chiba Lotte closer Yuji Nishino (3-2) propelled Fukuoka SoftBank to its third seven-game winning streak of the season.
Dennis Sarfate worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 17th save.
Lions 5, Buffaloes 3
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Takeya Nakamura overturned a one-run, eighth-inning deficit with his 11th home run of the season, a three-run shot off reliever Tatsuya Sato (0-3) in Seibu’s win over Orix.
Carp 6, BayStars 0
At Yokohama Stadium, Hiroshima’s Kyohei Nakamura (1-0) allowed three hits in 5-2/3 innings and earned his first win in three years as Yoshihiro Maru homered and drove in four runs.
Three relievers help complete the shutout.
The Carp snapped Yokohama’s six-game win streak.
Giants 2, Tigers 1
At Tokyo Dome, Hayato Takagi (4-4) allowed a run in seven innings, while Randy Messenger (4-4) surrendered an RBI single to rookie Shinnosuke Shigenobu and a solo shot to Hayato Sakamoto as Yomiuri beat Hanshin to snap a seven-game losing skid.
Messenger struck out seven and became the 145th pitcher in Japan to record 1,000 strikeouts. His first strikeout victim, on April 8, 2010, was rookie Giants manager Yoshinobu Takahashi.
Dragons 6, Swallows 1
At Nagoya Dome, Ricardo Nanita and Dayan Viciedo homered for Chunichi, which got 5-2/3 effective innings from Kazuki Yoshimi (2-1) to beat Tokyo Yakult.