FUKUOKA – Shota Takeda allowed a hit over six innings, and three relievers completed the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks’ 2-0, one-hit shutout of the Chiba Lotte Marines on Saturday.
Takeda (2-1) struck out eight, walked a batter and hit two to guide the Hawks to their fifth straight win behind a big game from shortstop Kenta Imamiya.
Takeda, a breaking ball specialist, pitched for Japan in the World Baseball Classic but missed two-and-a-half months due to lower back stiffness. He returned on June 28 and was pitching in his fifth game of the season.
“I’m extremely happy with this since I was out for roughly three months and caused the team and the fans concern,” Takeda said at Yafuoku Dome.
“More than my curveball, my fastball was my best pitch today. (Catcher Hiroaki) Takaya called a great game and whatever pitch he called for I threw as well as I could. My curve is my best pitch, but I was able to challenge batters in the zone with my fastball today.”
Marines right-hander Kota Futaki (4-4) retired the first 10 batters he faced before Imamiya opened the scoring with his sixth home run of the season.
Futaki tried to push Imamiya back with a 1-2 fastball well inside, but missed over the plate. Imamiya leaned into it, launching it high into the distant seats in left.
“I thought it was gone the instant I hit it,” he said. “That pitcher is really good, and impressive, so I was kind of lucky. My priority was making contact and reaching base. My timing had been off against him so I’m happy with this result.”
The Lotte starter allowed two runs — one earned — in 6-1/3 innings. Imamiya, who went 3-for-4, singled and scored in the seventh after an error and an RBI single by Seiichi Uchikawa.
Yuito Mori, Sho Iwasaki and Dennis Sarfate each threw a scoreless inning, with Sarfate striking out all three batters in the ninth to record his 31st save.
Eagles 8, Buffaloes 7
At Sendai’s Kobo Park, Japhet Amador went 4-for-4 with three home runs and five RBIs and Tohoku Rakuten held off Orix, helping Manabu Mima (8-2) to his first win since June 10.
Lions 4, Fighters 0
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Seibu’s Shinsaburo Tawata (2-2) struck out nine over seven scoreless innings and Ernesto Mejia blasted a two-run first-inning homer as Hokkaido Nippon Ham was shut out for the 11th time this season.
Giants 3, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Tomoyuki Sugano (10-4) threw eight scoreless innings and Shuichi Murata hit a three-run first-inning homer as Yomiuri defeated the hosts.
For the Giants, Scott Mathieson prevented two inherited runners from scoring to record his second save.
Swallows 6, Tigers 2
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yoshinori Sato (3-2) allowed two runs, including one earned, in five innings and Naomichi Nishiura broke a 2-2 tie with a second-inning RBI double as Tokyo Yakult topped Hanshin to snap its 14-game losing streak.
Carp 6, Dragons 3
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kazuki Yabuta (9-1) allowed two runs in six innings and Yoshihiro Maru hit a three-run, fifth-inning double as the Carp beat Chunichi.
Alex Guerrero belted his league-leading 27th home run for the Dragons.