SENDAI - Zelous Wheeler celebrated a big day for his family with two hits and three RBIs to help carry the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to a 6-2 win over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Wednesday evening.
Wheeler’s 19th home run of the season, a two-run shot, broke open a close game in the seventh inning.
“It was a very special home run tonight. Today is my son’s first birthday,” Wheeler said.
The Eagles’ foreign legion got off to a good start in the first when Japhet Amador singled and scored Rakuten’s first run after a double by new acquisition Carlos Peguero. An RBI single by Wheeler made it 2-0 in the third.
The Hawks, whose lead fell to 3½ games over the second-place Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, got a run back in the top of the fourth. But Peguero doubled and scored in the bottom half, when SoftBank starter Nao Higashihama (6-4) was chased after 3⅔ innings.
“It feels great because we were shutout yesterday, and we came out today and had good ABs and I had good ABs,” Peguero said.
After Wheeler went deep, Peguero doubled in a run during the three-run seventh inning to help Rakuten cruise to victory.
Fighters 8, Lions 4
At Saitama’s Seibu Prince Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham came from a run down in the fourth on solo homers by Sho Nakata and Hiromi Oka in a win over Seibu.
After putting the game on ice in a five-run ninth, former closer Hisashi Takeda took the mound for the Fighters in the bottom of the inning. Making his comeback from knee surgery and pitching for the first time since July 8, 2014, Takeda was hammered for two runs in a third of an inning.
Buffaloes 3, Marines 1
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, lefty Nobuyoshi Yamada (1-2) allowed a run in 6⅓ innings to earn his first pro victory as Orix came from behind to beat Chiba Lotte.
Yoshio Itoi doubled to help set up the Buffaloes’ tying run in the first and singled home the tie-breaking run in the third.
Giants 7, Carp 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hisayoshi Chono led off the bottom of the first with the first of Yomiuri’s three home runs, and Kazuto Taguchi (6-6) outdueled fellow lefty and 2015 CL ERA leader Kris Johnson (9-6) to beat first-place Hiroshima.
Slugger Garrett Jones went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer for the Giants.
BayStars 2, Dragons 0
At Nagoya Dome, Zach Petrick (2-1) worked 5⅔ innings and four relievers wrapped it up with closer Yasuaki Yamasaki working around a ninth-inning leadoff double to earn his 23rd save, as Yokohama shut out Chunichi for the second straight game.
Tigers 9, Swallows 0
At Nishinomiya’s Koshien Stadium, Atsushi Nomi (6-8) allowed five hits and a walk over the distance, and Fumihito Haraguchi drove in five runs in a nine-run fourth inning as Hanshin clobbered Tokyo Yakult.