FUKUOKA – Sho Nakata could not have picked a better time to hit his first home run of the season Thursday, a tiebreaking three-run shot in the 10th inning that lifted the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters past the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 5-4.
The Fighters snapped their 10-game losing streak.
Nakata homered off Yuito Mori (0-1) with two outs in the top of the 10th at Yafuoku Dome as the defending Japan Series champions halted their worst slide in 12 years.
The Hawks scored two runs in the bottom half, but Hirotoshi Masui (1-0), who pitched the last two innings, managed to close out the game to pick up the win — Nippon Ham’s first in 14 days.
After Nakata led off the seventh with a double to break up Rick van den Hurk’s no-hitter, Brandon Laird homered to give the visitors the lead, but Yuki Yanagita tied it at 2-2 with a two-run blast of his own in the eighth to invite extra innings.
Despite the victory, however, the Fighters are 13 games off the .500 mark. Nakata, who is hitting .191 on the year after missing a chunk of time due to injury, vowed to make up for his early-season struggles.
“I’ll try to win back everyone’s trust,” Nakata said. “I wanted to swing as hard as I could. And it turned out great.”
Buffaloes 3, Lions 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, with the game tied at 2-2, an error by Seibu third baseman Takeya Nakamura after Eiichi Koyano’s infield single scored Shunta Goto from second as Orix produced its first walk-off win of the year.
Carp 1, Giants 0
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Daichi Osera (1-0) won his first start in two years with seven scoreless innings against Yomiuri.
The Giants dropped to third place after wasting six strong innings from Ryosuke Miyaguni (0-1).
Tigers 5, BayStars 2
At Koshien Stadium, Yoshio Itoi’s two-run single keyed a three-run first for Hanshin, which held on to move into second place.
Yokohama’s Yoshitomo Tsutsugo hit his first homer of the season in the fifth, a solo shot off Shintaro Fujinami (2-1), who held the BayStars to one earned run over five innings.
Dragons 2, Swallows 0
At Nagoya Dome, Katsuki Matayoshi (2-0) threw seven shutout innings without issuing a walk as Chunichi climbed out of the cellar into fifth, trading places with Tokyo Yakult.