SAPPORO – Takuya Nakashima manufactured the decisive run with his speed, allowing the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters to snap a five-game losing streak with a 4-3, 11-inning victory over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Thursday.
With the score tied 3-3, Nakashima got things started in the 11th with a one-out infield single, his third of the game. He dashed to third on Haruki Nishikawa’s single to right and a huge lead off the bag allowed him to score on Go Matsumoto’s chopper to second.
Although the infield was drawn in and second baseman Toshihito Abe had the ball before Matsumoto was halfway down the line, the scorer curiously awarded the Fighters batter a hit — something that was not lost on Matsumoto in the postgame hero interview.
“It was kind of a lame way to end the game, but we won so that’s the important thing,” Matsumoto said. “That was all made possible by Taku and Nishi setting the table for me. I was just thinking about getting a run in any way possible.
“Even though we’ve been losing, the team is upbeat. We go out every day confident that we will win.”
Rookie right-hander Yuki Yoshida pitched in just his second game and his second against Rakuten. He allowed three runs in four innings in his April 14 debut in Sendai. This time, Yoshida pitched out of a couple of jams to work five scoreless innings, but the Eagles broke through in the sixth.
Right-hander Keisuke Tanimoto surrendered a leadoff double to Ginji Akaminai on the first pitch of the inning. Toshiaki Imae shattered the scoreless tie with a one-out RBI single, and went to second on the throw home. With two outs, Tanimoto walked No. 9 hitter Motohiro Shima on four pitches and Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled off the wall to make it 3-0.
The Fighters, who had been stymied for seven innings by Eagles starter Takahiro Shiomi, also scored against the first reliever they saw. And for the first time this season, reliever Hiroyuki Fukuyama had runs charged to him.
The right-hander issued a leadoff walk to Matsumoto and a single to Sho Nakata before Brandon Laird hit his 21st home run of the season to tie it.
Neither team could score until Nakashima scored the game-winner.
Lefty Norihito Kaneto (0-1), who allowed Nakashima and Nishikawa to get on base in the 11th, was charged with the loss.
Naoyuki Miyanishi (2-3) earned the win after working a scoreless 11th.
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