FUKUOKA – Fukuoka SoftBank had one scoring opportunity against Takayuki Kishi, but that was enough as Akira Nakamura singled in a run, Nobuhiro Matsuda homered and the Hawks beat the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 2-0 on Friday night.
Kishi (8-7) allowed four hits and issued an intentional walk, but allowed two runs in the eight-inning, complete-game loss. After retiring the first nine Hawks hitters, he surrendered a fourth-inning leadoff single to Kenji Akashi.
After a sacrifice, Nakamura made a defensive swing on a 1-1 changeup, and bounced it just hard enough to get it through the infield. Kishi needed to issue an intentional walk to get out of the inning, but allowed just two more base runners.
“I didn’t think we’d get many scoring chances, so I went into the batter’s box thinking I needed to make something of this one,” Nakamura said. “Honestly, I didn’t do very well, but it got through the infield and Aka did well to score on it.
With two outs in the seventh, Matsuda hit his 22nd home run of the season to make it 2-0.
Eagles cleanup hitter Japhet Amador was ejected in the second when he objected to a high-inside 2-2 pitch from Hawks starter Nao Higashihama (14-4) and charged the mound.
The visitors put the leadoff hitter on in the third, fourth, fifth and ninth, when closer Dennis Sarfate pitched out of a two-on, no-out pickle to secure his 45th save, extending his Pacific League record. The NPB record is 46, first achieved in 2005 by the Chunichi Dragons’ Hitoki Iwase and matched two years later by the Hanshin Tigers’ Kyuji Fujikawa.
Higashihama had lasted only four innings in his previous outing and said he spent the past week determined not to repeat the same mistakes.
“Actually, my condition was not all that good, but when I did put runners on, the fielders made the plays to shut them down, and I’m grateful to them,” said Higashihama, who allowed six hits but no walks in his 6-2/3 innings.
“This was my third matchup with Kishi, and although I don’t pay attention to who my opponent is in any game, he is of course an ace pitcher and I’m conscious of that. Today, I left the mound before he did, so at the end of the game, I looked back and thought that you can’t say I’m even remotely comparable to Mr. Kishi.”
Lions 7, Buffaloes 2
At Kobe’s Hotto Motto Field, Seibu put seven straight runners on base runners with one out in a five-run third inning against Orix’s Brandon Dickson (8-9) en route to victroy.
The Lions’ Ryoma Nogami (9-8) allowed two runs over seven innings to earn the win.
Marines 4, Fighters 3
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Wily Mo Pena hit a pair of two-run home runs to lift last-place Chiba Lotte over Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
Giants 3, BayStars 0 (8)
At Yokohama Stadium, Tomoyuki Sugano (14-5) scattered six hits and two walks over seven innings to outduel Shoichi Ino (5-8), who surrendered Seiji Kobayashi’s two-out, second-inning RBI single and a solo homer to Shinnosuke Abe.
The game that was called on account of rain in the top of the ninth inning.
Carp 3, Swallows 2
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Kris Johnson (6-3) yielded two runs in 7-2/3 innings to earn the victory, and Ryuhei Matsuyama went 3-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs as Hiroshima scraped past Tokyo Yakult.
Tigers 5, Dragons 3
At Koshien Stadium, Masahiro Nakatani’s one-out, two-run, eighth-inning home run off reliever Katsuki Matayoshi (6-2) brought Hanshin from behind in its triumph over Chunichi.