FUKUOKA – Sho Nakata went 4-for-5 with five RBIs and lifted the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to within four games of the Pacific League summit on Sunday as they beat the first-place Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 8-3.
Nakata turned the game around with a sharp two-run single off SoftBank’s Kenichi Nakata (3-3) in the third, and blasted over the left-center wall for another two runs in the fourth off reliever Sho Iwasaki.
Nakata singled in the seventh off Hawks reliever Edison Barrios and then hit an RBI single in the eighth off Ryota Igarashi to complete the scoring as the Fighters came away with two wins in a three-game series at Yafuoku Dome.
“I’m in a good frame of mind at the moment stepping into the batter’s box,” Nakata said. “We’re still some way off and will keep plugging away. We don’t know how things turn out each day, and will not let our guard down.”
Nippon Ham starter Takayuki Kato (3-1) held SoftBank to two runs — one earned — on six hits and two hit batsman over five-plus innings.
Nobuhiro Matsuda handed the Hawks the lead in the first with a two-out RBI single, but Kenichi Nakata, who let two on in the first two frames, was stung in the third.
After giving up three straight hits to blow the lead, the right-hander was chased after 2-2/3 innings allowing two further singles, giving up four runs on eight hits in total.
A throwing error and a wild pitch helped SoftBank score a run in the fifth and Yuki Yanagita hit an RBI single to make it 6-3 in the seventh, but Takuya Nakashima and Nakata drove in a run each in the eighth.
Buffaloes 5, Marines 3
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix’s Hiroyuki Nakajima went 3-for-3 with three RBIs, driving in a run on a sacrifice fly in the first and a two-run homer in the third off Chiab Lotte’s Hideaki Wakui (9-5).
The Marines’ ace allowed all the runs lasting three innings.
Eagles 6, Lions 4
At Sendai’s Kobo Stadium, Motohiro Shima squeezed home the tying run off Seibu’s Kona Takahashi (3-9) in the seventh and scored the go-ahead run on an Eigoro Mogi single as Tohoku Rakuten sent the Lions to the bottom of the PL standings.
BayStars 4, Dragons 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Yokohama rookie Shota Imanaga (6-6) earned his first win in almost two months, holding Chunichi to a run over seven innings as the BayStars returned to .500.
Carp 8, Giants 7
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Takahiro Arai hit a walk-off RBI double in the ninth off Yomiuri closer Hirokazu Sawamura (3-2) after Ryosuke Kikuchi tied it with a two-out solo shot for Hiroshima.
The CL leader snapped a four-game losing skid, and ended the Giants’ seven-game win streak.
Swallows 7, Tigers 6 (10)