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Otani records first victory of injury-plagued season

Fighters ace, four relievers combine on three-hitter in rout of Eagles

Kyodo

Shohei Otani worked 5-2/3 innings to earn his first win of the season and four relievers completed a three-hit shutout as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters topped the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 7-0 on Tuesday.

Otani (1-2) was making his third start of an injury-hit season. He allowed one hit and three walks. He struck out four before he was pulled as he approached his 80-pitch target for the evening.

He left the mound the game after throwing 78 pitches.

“I think I was able to show some good pitching and we won, so I’m happy about that,” said Otani, who had started previously on July 12 and Aug. 31. “Compared to how I throw when I’m in top form, I’m not there yet, but I was able to pitch carefully so as to keep them off the board. I’m looking forward to next time.”

Otani’s fastball topped out at 163 kph on a night when representatives of about half of MLB’s 30 teams were at Sapporo Dome.

Otani acknowledged he still has a long way to go.

“I feel I owe an apology that it’s taken so long. I’m not there yet,” he said. “I was able to keep them from scoring and that’s the big thing, although I want to go deeper into the game and finish what I start.”

The Fighters gave their ace some run support in the fourth inning, when rookie Toshitake Yokoo belted a three-run homer off Eagles right-hander Manabu Mima.

“My intent was to get a run in,” said Yokoo of his second career homer. “But it felt good coming off the bat and I thought it might have a chance, so as I was running the bases, I was saying, ‘Get out! Get out!’ ”

A two-run Haruki Nishikawa homer in the fifth gave Nippon Ham a 5-0 lead.

Mima (9-6) was charged with five runs on six hits and a walk over five innings.

Tomohiro Anraku came out of the bullpen in the sixth and surrendered another two runs to a trio of Fighters rookies. Yokoo drew a leadoff walk, Ryo Watanabe tripled him home, and scored on Yushi Shimizu’s sacrifice fly.

Marines 7, Buffaloes 5

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Kazuya Fukuura went 2-for-4 with an RBI double and and a run-scoring single, helping Chiba Lotte rally to beat Orix.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 8, Swallows 1

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Daisuke Yamai (2-0) allowed a run in six innings, while Chunichi teed of on Masanori Ishikawa (4-14).

The veteran Yakult lefty allowed six runs on nine hits over three innings and became the first CL pitcher in 56 years to lose 11 straight decisions.

BayStars 3, Carp 1

At Mazda Stadium, Yokohama starter Joe Wieland (8-2) changed speeds effectively to hold league-leading Hiroshima to a run on five hits and two walks over six innings.

It was the BayStars’ fourth straight win over the Carp.

Giants 5, Tigers 5 (12)

At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri overcame a 5-0 deficit, tying Hanshin in the ninth with the help of an error.