FUKUOKA – Seiichi Uchikawa drove in four runs to help ace Tadashi Settsu make a winning return as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks beat the Seibu Lions 8-5 on Sunday to pull within a half-game of the Pacific League lead.
Settsu (2-2) allowed three runs in five innings, but it was enough to win his first start since Aug. 10. The right-hander allowed five hits and a walk, while striking out seven.
The game started as all Hawks, with SoftBank holding a 4-0 lead until Ernesto Mejia’s 34th home run, a two-run shot in the fourth made it a 4-2 game. But Uchikawa went to work, singling in a run in the bottom half and belting a three-run homer in the sixth that put the game out of reach.
After homers by young Seibu sluggers Hotaka Yamakawa and Tomoya Mori made it an 8-5 game, former Lions closer Dennis Sarfate threw a 1-2-3 ninth to equal his PL-record 41st save.
“I had chances to drive in runs in my first and second at-bats, but failed. I really wanted to do something, so I was so happy (with the home run),” Uchikawa said. “I only wish I’d hit sooner.
“In this kind of situation, the captain has to try a little harder to give us more margin for error. At the end, I was able to fulfill my responsibility to everyone.”
This is the third straight season in which Settsu has spent substantial time on the farm team during the summer, and the club is hoping he can replicate the solid late-season results he produced the past two years en route to Japan Series championships.
“At the end our big objective is the championship, but today Settsu came back,” Uchikawa said. “And within the larger context of our big objective, another small objective was getting him a win. As we check off one small objective after another, we’ll be able to enjoy the big one with the fans.”
Eagles 9, Fighters 4
At Kobo Miyagi Stadium, Hokkaido Nippon Ham rookie lefty Takayuki Kato (5-3) struggled for the second straight start, allowing six runs in 3⅔ innings in a one-sided loss to Tohoku Rakuten.
Buffaloes 4, Marines 3
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Masataka Yoshida had a pair of RBI doubles, the last one tying it in the eighth, before Orix came from behind for a walk-off win in the ninth. Chiba Lotte intentionally walked to load the bases with two outs before Naoya Masuda (3-2) walked in the winning run.
Dragons 4, BayStars 2
At Nagoya Dome, eighth-inning RBI doubles by Naomichi Donoue and Shuhei Takahashi, who also homered, broke a 2-2 tie and lifted Chunichi past Yokohama to snap a four-game losing streak.
Giants 8, Carp 0
At Tokyo Dome, Hayato Takagi (5-8) worked seven innings, and Yomiuri pounded 19-year-old reliever Atsuya Horie for six runs in one-third of an inning in his pro debut as the Carp lost the night after clinching their first pennant in 25 years.
Tigers 5, Swallows 0
At Jingu Stadium, Yuta Iwasada (7-9) threw a four-hitter against Tokyo Yakult for his second shutout of the season, snapping Hanshin’s four-game losing streak with both Takashi Toritani and Kosuke Fukudome going deep.