OSAKA – Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko threw a two-hit shutout on Friday as the surprising Buffaloes opened their weekend series with a 9-0 victory over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Kaneko (2-0) struck out five without issuing a walk. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit until the Buffaloes were leading 6-0, when Nobuhiro Matsuda beat out an infield single to lead off the sixth.
The right-hander surrendered a one-out single in the ninth, but still needed just 92 pitches to wrap up his win.
“It’s the first time I’ve thrown a complete game without breaking a 100. I’m pretty happy about that, since I was determined not to throw balls and just work in the strike zone,” Kaneko said.
“Our batters scratched for a run in the first and then added on to it. That gave me some breathing room and it became very easy to work. I became really relaxed out there. Today everything was pretty good.”
Eiichi Koyano singled in the game’s first run in the first inning off Kenichi Nakata (1-2). Nakata retired the first two batters he faced, but his control cost him. The next batter reached as one of three batters the right-hander hit. A single followed and Koyano cashed in a run.
After a walk, Hiroyuki Nakajima drilled a three-run double to the gap to all but ice the game early.
Koyano helped turn the game into a rout with solo homers in the third and seventh.
The win lifted the Buffaloes to 7-5. After challenging for the Pacific League title in 2014, when Kaneko was PL MVP, they finished fifth the following season and last in 2016. Orix opened 2017 with three straight losses before winning six straight. Still, they headed into Friday’s games after back-to-back defeats.
“When our winning streak stopped, we then lost consecutive games and so today was a big one I wanted to win,” Kaneko said.
Nakata allowed five runs on four hits, two walks and three hit batsmen. He struck out five before being relieved by rookie Jumpei Takahashi. The Hawks’ top draft pick in 2015, Takahashi was making his pro debut and surrendered four runs in three innings.
Eagles 3, Fighters 2
At Sendai’s Kobo Park, Tohoku Raktuen’s Carlos Paguero’s RBI double drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth off Hokkaido Nippon Ham starter Yuki Yoshida (0-1), who was making his pro debut.
Yoshinao Kamata (1-1) earned the win after allowing two runs in five innings.
Lions 3, Marines 2
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Seibu’s Ernesto Mejia hit a come-from-behind two-run shot with two outs and a full count in the ninth off Chiba Lotte closer Naoya Masuda (0-1).
Seibu closer Tatsushi Masuda (1-0) loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, but pinch hitter Kazuya Fukuura grounded into a double play.
Tigers 4, Carp 2
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin snapped Hiroshima’s streak of 10 straight winning decisions as Randy Messenger (2-0) held the CL leader to a run in seven innings.
Hanshin took a three-run lead in the third, when Takashi Toritani hit a two-run double off rookie Takuya Kato (1-1), who came within two outs of a no-hitter on his debut a week earlier.
Dragons 3, Giants 2 (12)
At Nagoya Dome, one out away from a tie game, Yohei Oshima and Kyohei Kamezawa both singled to set up Alex Guerrero’s sayonara game-winning hit as Chunichi outlasted Yomiuri.
BayStars 4, Swallows 3 (10)
At Yokohama Stadium, pinch hitter Hiroyuki Shirasaki hit a walk-off RBI single off Tokyo Yakult’s Josh Lueke (0-2).
Taiki Sekine bunted for a leadoff single, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a balk before Shirasaki ended it with a one-out single.
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