FUKUOKA - Fukuoka SoftBank southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada struck out nine in six scoreless innings to lead the Hawks to a 3-0 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines, winning his first game back from elbow surgery on Sunday.
Wada (3-0), who started for the first time since April 7, allowed only two hits while walking two, as the Pacific League-leading Hawks snapped a two-game losing streak.
Veteran Wada, who had surgery in May to treat elbow inflammation, also recorded his 1,500th career strikeout by punching out retiring former Hawks teammate Tadahito Iguchi in the fourth inning.
“I did everything I could at this stage,” Wada said at Yafuoku Dome. “I may be in better shape than I was at the beginning of the season.”
Wada was caught off guard in the fifth, when Lotte loaded the bases with two outs after walking Tatsuhiro Tamura and Wily Mo Pena. Wada got Takashi Ogino to ground out to escape the jam.
Dennis Sarfate struck out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth for his 43rd save, tying his own PL single-season record he set last year.
The 36-year-old Sarfate is three away from matching the NPB record owned by the Chunichi Dragons’ career saves leader Hitoki Iwase (2005) and Kyuji Fujikawa (2007) of the Hanshin Tigers.
With 26 games left in the season, Sarfate has every chance of becoming the first pitcher in Japanese baseball to notch 50 saves.
Before a crowd of 38,585 spectators, Alfredo Despaigne went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, including a third-inning double that opened the scoring off Kota Futaki (5-7), who allowed three earned runs in eight innings.
“I’m glad could hit because today was an important game,” Despaigne said.
Fighters 5, Eagles 2
At Sendai’s Kobo Park, Shohei Otani’s game-tying sacrifice fly highlighted a three-run third inning which Hokkaido Nippon Ham used to beat Tohoku Rakuten for its fourth four-game winning streak of the season.
Buffaloes 10, Lions 9
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Masataka Yoshida and pinch-hitter Eiichi Koyano each hit three-run shots as Orix came out ahead of Seibu in a 26-hit slugfest.CENTRAL LEAGUE
Giants 6, Tigers 0
At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri rookie Seishu Hatake (4-1) allowed just one hit and struck out 11 in seven shutout innings, and Yoshiyuki Kamei’s RBI double sparked a six-run seventh inning as the Giants blanked Hanshin.
BayStars 7, Swallows 3
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yokohama’s Haruhiro Hamaguchi (8-5) pitched into the seventh inning, holding Tokyo Yakult to three earned runs on six hits and a pair of walks.
Dragons 6, Carp 5
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Nobumasa Fukuda’s two-run home run ignited a four-run first inning that carried Chunichi past first-place Hiroshima.