FUKUOKA – Yuki Yanagita and Nobuhiro Matsuda each homered for the second straight day as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks flexed their interleague muscle in a 4-2 win over the Yokohama BayStars on Thursday.
Before 33,632 at Yafuoku Dome, the Hawks, two-time defending Japan Series champs and five-time interleague winners, came from a run down in the first against Shoichi Ino (4-6).
Yanagita tied it with the third straight single of the inning, and Seiichi Uchikawa put the hosts in front with a sacrifice fly.
The Hawks made it 3-1 in the third, when Yanagita went the other way with an inside pitch, lofting it into the home run terrace in left for his 10th home run.
“I put a pretty good swing on it, but I thought it was going to be an out, so I’m pretty happy it got in,” said Yanagita, the 2015 Pacific League MVP.
Matsuda made it 4-1 in the fourth with his 13th home run. But the BayStars began to fight back, threatening in the sixth and seventh, when they scored one on a bases-loaded single from Toshihiko Kuramoto and were looking for more with the bases loaded and one out.
With star closer Dennis Sarfate getting the night off, right-hander Sho Iwasaki was thrust into action. He struck out the first man he faced before ending the threat with a groundout.
“I’d pitched in nine games this season and didn’t have a strikeout yet, so it was great that I could get one in that big situation,” Iwasaki said. “Sarfate wasn’t in the bullpen, so we were a little thin and we all knew we’d have to step up.”
Robert Suarez took over in the ninth for Softbank, and worked around a one-out single to record his first save as the Hawks improved to 6-2 with one tie to take over the interleague lead at the halfway mark.
Lions 7, Giants 4
At Tokorozawa’s Seibu Prince Dome, a pair of once-mighty Yomiuri relievers ran into a seventh-inning buzz saw as Seibu overturned a 3-2 deficit.
Lefty Tetsuya Yamaguchi (0-3) surrendered three straight extra-base hits and hit a batter before former closer Kentaro Nishimura served up Ernesto Mejia’s 20th homer of the season, a game-breaking, three-run shot.
Carp 4, Fighters 2
At Sapporo Dome, Hiroshima’s Yusuke Nomura (7-2) held Hokkaido Nippon Ham scoreless over six innings and took over the CL lead in wins.
Seiya Suzuki singled in two runs in the second, plated another with a bases-loaded groundout in the eighth and made a good running catch in the ninth to help seal the win.
The Fighters’ Shohei Otani went 0-for-4 with a walk, ending Japan’s second-longest hitting streak of the season at 17 games. The 21-year-old ace pitcher and designated hitter hadn’t gone hitless since April 26.
Dragons 8, Buffaloes 3
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Dayan Viciedo hit a two-run homer in the first off Orix’s Chihiro Kaneko (3-5) and Ricardo Nanita and Atsushi Fujii also went deep as Chunichi returned to .500.
Eagles 3, Swallows 2
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten overturned a 1-0, fifth-inning deficit on Yuichi Adachi’s RBI single and rookie Luis Okoye’s sac fly off Yakult’s Masato Furuno (0-1).
The Eagles’ Manabu Mima (5-2) allowed a run in 5-2/3 innings to earn the win.
Marines 7, Tigers 2
At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Hanshin’s Shintaro Fujinami (4-3) allowed four runs — two earned — in the first two innings, while Chiba Lotte’s Kota Futaki (4-5) picked up the win, giving up two runs in six innings as the Marines swept the three-game series.