FUKUOKA – Alfredo Despaigne broke a scoreless tie with a game-ending RBI single in the bottom of the ninth as the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks defeated Tohoku Rakuten 1-0 on Sunday, the Eagles losing 10 straight for the first time in 12 years.
Before 38,585 at Yafuoku Dome, Despaigne went 3-for-4 against Takahiro Norimoto (11-6).
In the bottom of the ninth, Kenta Imamiya singled, followed by an intentional walk to cleanup hitter Yuki Yanagita. With two outs, Despaigne singled to centerfield, as Imamiya scored to clinch the Hawks’ fourth win in a row.
“The pitchers of both teams were doing a great job, so I wanted to hit and close out the game,” Despaigne said. “I am excited.”
“I knew that Yanagita would walk, so I entered the box concentrating on getting a hit,” said Despaigne, who was jammed on an inside fastball but lifted it to center, where Hiroaki Shimauchi took a poor route to the ball and failed to catch it for the third out.
SoftBank southpaw Livan Moinelo (4-1), who played for Cuba with Despaigne in March’s World Baseball Classic, earned the win by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth.
Hawks starter Tsuyoshi Wada pitched seven solid innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out six. The southpaw returned to the mound in August after undergoing elbow surgery in May.
The Eagles had three chances to score, none better than with two on and two out in the fourth. With runners on the corners, Shimauchi drilled a high 3-1 fastball to short that appeared to nearly take Imamiya’s glove off when he caught it. Shimauchi stood in disbelief before slamming his bat to the turf and breaking it.
The Pacific League-leading Hawks secured a spot in the best-of-three Climax Series on Saturday by beating the Eagles 3-1.
Norimoto only allowed five singles and the intentional walk, while striking out eight in 8⅔.
Buffaloes 11, Lions 6
At Kyocera Dome, Orix scored four unearned runs off Seibu starter Brian Wolfe (9-4), with the big blow being Masataka Yoshida’s 10th homer, a one-out, three-run shot after two runners reached on third-inning errors.
Fighters 5, Marines 2
At Zozo Marine Stadium, Kazunari Ishii hit a tie-breaking, three-run, seventh-inning home run to lift Hokkaido Nippon Ham past last-place Chiba Lotte.
Carp 9, Swallows 2
At Jingu Stadium, Akitake Okada (12-5) allowed two earned runs over six innings while his batterymate Tsubasa Aikawa homered twice, scored three runs and drove in three as league-leading Hiroshima completed a three-game sweep of last-place Tokyo Yakult.
BayStars 1, Giants 0
At Yokohama Stadium, Tatsuhiro Shibata’s eighth-inning sacrifice fly off Yomiuri’s Scott Mathieson (3-3) plated Toshihiko Kuramoto.
Yokohama starter Haruhiro Hamaguchi (9-5) went eight innings to earn the win, while Giants starter Miles Mikolas struck out 11 over seven scoreless innings.
Dragons 4, Tigers 2
At Koshien Stadium, Chunichi’s Alex Guerrero hit his Japan-best 33rd home run, a two-run, fourth-inning shot off former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighter stalwart Luis Mendoza (0-1), who took the loss in his Hanshin debut.