Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Lions rout Eagles to extend win streak to 12

Kyodo

Yusei Kikuchi overcame an awkward start to strike out 11 batters over eight innings as the Seibu Lions whipped the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 8-1, extending their win streak to 12 games.

Before 20,355 at MetLife Dome, Kikuchi (11-4) stumbled covering first base on the game’s first play, but showed no ill effects as he dominated the Eagles’ lineup. The lefty allowed a run on three hits and a walk and hit a career-high 158 km per hour on a pitch to Zelous Wheeler in the fifth inning.

“My teammates gave me three runs in the first and I could settle in and pitch,” Kikuchi said. “Last year, or rather every year, I have issues with walks, and every offseason that’s a focus for me. It seems like I’ve been making progress.”

After a 1-2-3 top of the first by the Lions lefty, Shogo Akiyama opened the bottom of the inning with his 19th home run of the season. Sosuke Genda drew a walk from Tomohiro Anraku, stole second, went to third on a Hideto Asamura single and scored on a throwing error.

With two outs, Hotaka Yamakawa, who homered three times the night before, singled in Asamura to make it 3-0. The Lions put the game away in the seventh, when Genda tripled in two runs and Yamakawa, who went 3-for-4 with a double, singled in two more.

Anraku (1-3) was charged with four runs, two earned, on seven hits and two walks. The 20-year-old right-hander struck out six.

The Lions’ winning streak is the franchise’s longest since 1991. The three-game sweep was the first suffered by the Eagles, who had spent much of the season in first place.

Hawks 5, Buffaloes 3

At Kyocera Dome, Yuki Yanagita and Alfredo Despaigne hit back-to-back, first-inning home runs and Nao Higashihama (11-3) allowed a run in 6⅓ innings as Fukuoka SoftBank held off Orix.

Fighters 3, Marines 2

At Zozo Marine Stadium, lefty Takayuki Kato (4-5) worked five scoreless innings as Hokkaido Nippon Ham squeaked past Chiba Lotte in a game in which both teams combined for 21 hits but struggled to drive runners in.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

BayStars 4, Dragons 3

At Yokohama Stadium, Jose Lopez broke a 2-2, third-inning tie with his 20th home run, a two-run shot as the BayStars snapped a three-game losing streak by beating Chunichi.

Swallows 7, Giants 5

At Jingu Stadium, Wladimir Balentien broke a 5-5, seventh-inning tie with his 22nd home run, a two-run shot, as Tokyo Yakult overcame a four-run deficit to beat Yomiuri, which got off to a hot start behind two homers from Taiwan’s Yang Dai-kang.

Tigers at Carp — late