Takeya Nakamura hit his 16th and 17th home runs of the season to bring the Seibu Lions from behind in an 11-4 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.
With one out in the third inning and the Lions trailing 2-1 at Tokyo Dome, the Fighters’ former home park, Nakamura put Seibu in front with one swing against Hirotoshi Takanashi (3-7).
“I homered, but with a runner on third, my principle goal was to bring him home,” said Nakamura, a six-time Pacific League home run champ.
Takanashi tried to go low and away with a 1-2 fastball but missed up on the outside part of the plate. Nakamura, who built his career on pulling balls to left, hit this one where it was pitch, driving it out to right center.
“The pitch I wanted to get him out with missed and went where it was easy to hit,” Takanashi said.
Shohei Otani, starting as the Fighters’ designated hitter for the first time since April 8, walked and doubled in the fifth spot for the hosts but didn’t figure in the scoreline.
Lions starter Yosuke Okamoto (3-0) issued a one-out walk before Sho Nakata went deep for his 11th homer of the season. But Lions’ catcher Ginjiro Sumitani doubled in a run in the top of the second.
Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Brandon Laird opened with his 18th home run. Otani, who has been dealing with either right-ankle or left-thigh issues since the end of last October, followed with a double and was pulled for a pinch hitter. But with the tying run on second and no outs, tentative and awkward Fighters swings allowed Okamoto to get three easy outs and protect his lead.
Okamoto allowed three runs on four hits and two walks over 5⅔ innings, while striking out five. Takanashi surrendered five runs in six innings.
Rookie Fighters reliever Kenta Uehara allowed the game to become a rout, surrendering five ninth-inning runs on a five hits and a walk.
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