SAPPORO – Tsuyoshi Wada worked eight impressive innings as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks earned a big 3-0 win over the surging Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, who fell a half-game back in the Pacific League pennant race.
Wada (13-4), who now leads both leagues in wins, struck out nine without issuing a walk to win the first game of a three-game set at Sapporo Dome. Although Wada was coming off a tough loss in his last outing, it was the sixth straight start in which the lefty lasted at least seven innings while allowing two or fewer runs.
“I’m really tired,” said Wada, who returned to Japan this season after four years in the United States. “I took the mound having confidence we would win.
“That (leading the league in wins) is great when all the games are done. For now, I just want to focus on each game as it comes.”
The Hawks took the lead in the first inning against Kohei Arimura (10-6) on Kenta Imamiya’s solo homer and tacked on two in the second when Yuki Yoshimura went deep with a man on.
“My last start left a bad taste in my mouth, so tonight I was determined not to allow any runs,” Wada said. “But Imamiya and Yoshimura getting those runs for me made my job a lot easier.”
Wada surrendered four hits, three of them leadoff singles, but with sharp movement and good location on all his pitches, the best the Fighters could manage against him were some close calls.
Closer Dennis Sarfate surrendered a leadoff walk, but preserved the shutout to earn his 36th save.
Lions 5, Marines 3
At Saitama’s Seibu Prince Dome, Seibu hit four home runs, starting in the first with a leadoff homer from Shogo Akiyama and a two-run shot from Takeya Nakamura, who was in the lineup for the first time this month.
Hotaka Yamakawa added two homers for the Lions, who got seven innings out of Yusei Kikuchi (9-5) in their win over Chiba Lotte.
Eagles 3, Buffaloes 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Tomohiro Anraku (1-3) allowed four hits and a walk over seven innings, and Tohoku Rakuten broke a scoreless tie on Zelous Wheeler’s 23rd homer of the year, a seventh-inning solo shot off Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (6-7).
Dragons 2, BayStars 0
At Nagoya Dome, Chunichi’s Jordan Norberto (6-5) struck out 10 over six innings and three relievers worked one hitless inning apiece to complete the four-hit shutout of Yokohama, whose batters struck out 15 times.
Giants 6, Tigers 3
At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri’s Shinnosuke Abe broke a 3-3 fifth-inning tie with a two-run home run off Hanshin’s Randy Messenger (10-8) to make a winner out of lefty Kazuto Taguchi (9-6).
Carp 6, Swallows 4
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, a Seiya Suzuki solo homer and a three-run double from Yoshihiro Maru overturned a two-run, eighth-inning defict as league-leading Hiroshima came from behind to beat Tokyo Yakult, spoiling six solid innings from Swallows right-hander Kyle Davies.