FUKUOKA – Shohei Otani belted two homers for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Saturday, propelling them to an 8-1 win over the Pacific-League leading Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Otani, the Fighters ace pitcher and designated hitter, blasted an opposite-field, two-run shot off Kodai Senga (8-1) in the third and smashed another two-run shot that traveled over the center-field wall in the seventh off reliever Shinya Kayama, taking his season tally to 16.
“I had really good at-bats,” said Otani, who has pitched just once in relief (on July 24) since his last start on July 10 was cut short by a blister on his pitching hand.
Since his last start on the mound, Otani has batted in 16 games with a .390 average, six home runs, 14 runs and 16 RBIs as the Fighters’ DH.
Senga was tagged with his first loss of the season after allowing a career-high five runs — four earned — on six hits and three walks over six innings, although he amassed a career-high 13 strikeouts.
“Because I kept pitching dangerously, I was thinking this (a loss) would happen,” Senga said. “Thinking that is no good.”
Nippon Ham’s Hirotoshi Takanashi (6-2) allowed his only run in the fifth. The right-hander issued four walks but held the Hawks to three hits over five innings, striking out one. The 25-year-old rookie improved to 4-0 since switching from the bullpen on June 8.
Brandon Laird also homered for the Fighters, with a solo shot in the eighth off Kayama.
Marines 2, Buffaloes 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Chiba Lotte rookie Ryota Sekiya (4-1) held Orix scoreless over seven innings.
Kei Hosoya and Alfredo Despaigne each hit an RBI single each off Brandon Dickson (7-8), who threw 7-2/3 innings.
Eagles 7, Lions 5
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Hiroaki Shimauchi broke a 2-2 tie with a fourth-inning grand slam off Seibu’s Ken Togame (3-4).
Takahiro Norimoto (10-6) allowed two runs over seven innings, while fanning 12 to earn the win.
BayStars 6, Dragons 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Masashi Kuwahara’s two-run, tie-breaking double in the eighth completed Yokohama’s comeback off Chunichi reliever Hitoki Iwase (0-2), who became the third player in history to pitch in 900 NPB games.
Giants 3, Carp 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yomiuri’s Shuichi Murata hit a tiebreaking double in the fifth off Hiroshima’s Hiroki Kuroda (7-7).
Kan Otake (4-1) allowed two runs over 5-1/3 innings and earned the win over his former team as Yomiuri triumphed in seven straight games for the first time in two years.
Swallows 6, Tigers 1
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, submarine right-hander Hirofumi Yamanaka (4-8) threw a six-hitter and Tokyo Yakult erupted for five runs in the third inning against Randy Messenger (9-7) to beat Hanshin.