SAPPORO – The Pacific League champion Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters marked their regular-season finale with a 3-1 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Friday.
Nippon Ham, which last won the league in 2014 before it was beaten at the Japan Series by the Yomiuri Giants, was presented with the PL pennant after the game before a packed crowd of 41,138 at Sapporo Dome.
“Thank you for fighting with us throughout the year,” skipper Hideki Kuriyama said. “We will go together to get what we left behind four years ago. We’ll give our best performances and definitely become the best in Japan.”
Fighters right-hander Hirotoshi Masui (10-3) worked 3-2/3 innings in relief of “starter” Masaru Takeda, who pitched to one batter and struck him out on three pitches in his retirement game.
Masui, a reliever for most of his career before being shifted into the starting rotation on Aug. 4, was backed by three runs and reached double figures in victories for the first time in his seven-year career. The right-hander held the Marines to one run on one hit, Tatsuhiro Tamura’s solo home run. He struck out three and walked none.
Lotte lefty Chen Kuan-yu (1-1) gave up a one-out walk and a single in the first inning before advancing the runners with a wild pitch. Third baseman Shogo Nakamura let Sho Nakata’s grounder through his legs as both runners came home.
Ryo Watanabe scored another run in the second with his first career home run, hitting an opposite-field solo shot just over the right-field wall.
Takeda, who pitched for the Fighters for 11 seasons ended with a career record of 82-61.
Hawks 8, Eagles 2
At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Kenichi Nakata (7-3) held Tohoku Rakuten to a run on four hits over six innings, while Nobuhiro Matsuda and Shinya Tsuruoka both homered for Fukuoka SoftBank.
Tigers 2, Giants 1
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin’s Kosuke Fukudome hit a game-tying RBI single in the ninth before Shunsuke Fujikawa deliverd a bases-loaded, walk-off sacrifice fly off Yomiuri closer Hirokazu Sawamura (6-4).
Shintaro Fujinami threw six shutout innings for the Tigers, while the Giants’ Tetsuya Utsumi tossed seven scoreless innings.
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