OSAKA – Kenya Wakatsuki’s two-run, fourth-inning double sparked a five-run inning as the Orix Buffaloes came from behind to beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 8-4 on Friday night and knock them out of first place.
“I hit it on the sweet spot. It’s been so long since that happened that I was surprised,” said Wakatsuki, a career .210 hitter.
Before 26,324 at Kyocera Dome, Eagles starter Takayuki Kishi survived one tough scrape, but the second proved fatal. The right-hander stranded three runners in the second after walking in a run, but blew a 2-1 lead in the fourth.
After a leadoff single by his former Seibu Lions teammate Hiroyuki Nakajima, Kishi issued a one-out walk to Ryoichi Adachi. Kishi bounced a curve to Wakatsuki, allowing the runners to advance on a wild pitch. The Buffaloes catcher then golfed a low, inside fastball into the gap in right-center for an opposite field double.
Takahiro Okada singled in Wakatsuki, who scored when right fielder Louis Okoye’s throw short-hopped his catcher. Chris Marrero capped the rally with his 10th homer.
Kishi allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks over six innings. It was the most runs he’s allowed since joining Rakuten over the winter from the Lions as a free agent.
“My pitching was poor from the first inning. I made too many unnecessary mistakes,” Kishi said.
The Buffaloes opened the scoring when Okada worked a walk after falling behind 0-2 against Kishi in the second. But the Eagles took the lead in the third against Brandon Dickson on a double by Okoye and RBI singles by Ginji Akaminai and Japhet Amador.
Dickson was chased in the sixth, when Hiroaki Shimauchi doubled and scored on Ryo Hijirisawa’s no-out single. Dickson surrendered three runs on eight hits and a walk in five-plus innings.
“He (Dickson) has pitched well for us a lot this season and we haven’t done much to help him win. So I want to get him to 10 wins,” Wakatsuki said of his batterymate, who is in his fifth season with Orix.
Right-hander Gonzalez German got Orix out of the inning after allowing a one-out single and pitched out of trouble in the seventh after allowing a run.
Marines 5, Lions 3
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Katsuya Kakunaka tied it 3-3 with his two-run, fifth-inning homer and Wily Mo Pena’s seventh-inning RBI double put Chiba Lotte in front for good.
Seibu’s Hideto Asamura drove in three runs by homering in his first two at-bats.
Swallows 10, Dragons 2
At Nagoya Dome, David Buchanan (6-9) allowed two first-inning runs but went the distance for the win after Yakult came from behind by making the most of five walks from Chunichi’s Raul Valdes (6-7).
Tigers 8, BayStars 1
At Yokohama Stadium, Hanshin’s Minoru Iwata (2-0) allowed a run over seven innings and Masahiro Nakatani broke the game open with his 13th home run, a three-run, third-inning blast off tough Yokohama lefty Kenta Ishida (4-5).
Giants 9, Carp 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kazuto Taguchi (10-2) allowed eight hits over the distance and singled in a run in a six-run fifth inning as Yomiuri rallied to beat Hiroshima.
Shinnosuke Abe put the Giants in front with his 1,998th career hit, a three-run double.