FUKUOKA – Shuta Ishikawa held Japan’s most potent offense to one run over eight innings in the SoftBank Hawks’ 4-1 win over the Pacific League-leading Seibu Lions on Thursday.
Having scored nine or more runs in their five previous games, all wins, the Hawks turned the starting duties over to Ishikawa (3-1), who had the Lions swinging wildly. The 26-year-old right-hander struck out seven, while giving up three hits and a walk. He hit one batter.
“I only focused on what I needed to do,” Ishikawa said when asked about facing the Lions. “I pitched this game with same emotion I always do.”
Nobuhiro Matsuda put the Hawks ahead for good with a three-run, sixth-inning homer into the left field stands at Yafuoku Dome.
“It got hot in here,” Ishikawa said of Matsuda’s blast. “It seems like he’s always backing me up. I owe him.”
The home run was the fourth of the year for Matsuda, who put a good swing on a high-hanging curve from Lions starter Ken Togame.
“I was just trying to bring a runner home after the guys set the table for me, but I’m happy I got a home run in the process,” Matsuda said.
He then thanked Ishikawa for his efficient effort that saw the game wrap up in 2 hours, 27 minutes.
“Shuta pitched at such a high tempo, very energy efficient,” Matsuda said. “It was very kind of him to get us out of here by 8:30 (p.m.).”
The Hawks got on the board against side-armer Togame (1-3) when Seiji Uebayashi walked and scored on Takuya Kai’s two-out, fifth-inning triple.
The Lions threatened to take the lead in the sixth, when Yuji Kaneko singled with one out and Shogo Akiyama doubled. But Ishikawa forced Seibu to settle for a run on Sosuke Genda’s sacrifice fly.
Yuki Yanagita opened the bottom of the inning against Togame with a single and Alfredo Despaigne reached on a one-out single, to bring Matsuda to the plate.
“I didn’t have great expectations after being an easy out my first two times up,” he said. “I was really only looking to make good contact, but I got a good swing on it that I could be satisfied with.”
Marines 1, Eagles 0
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Chiba Lotte’s Hideaki Wakui (2-2) threw a two-hitter to win a pitchers’ duel with Tohoku Rakuten’s Wataru Kawashima (0-2).
The lone run of the game came after a third-inning infield single by Shogo Nakamura and an error on Seiya Inoue’s easy fly to center that was not caught.
Fighters 3, Buffaloes 2
At Sapporo Dome, Kensuke Kondo went 3-for-4 with a tie-breaking, fifth-inning RBI double, and Nick Martinez (3-2) allowed two runs over 7⅓ innings to earn the win as Hokkaido Nippon Ham beat Orix.
Carp 4, BayStars
At Yokohama Stadium, Brad Eldred’s ninth-inning pinch-hit home run off closer Yasuaki Yamasaki (0-1) lifted league-leading Hiroshima to victory and a three-game sweep of the BayStars.