Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Tetsuto Yamada, Norichika Aoki ignite offense in Swallows' sixth straight victory

Kyodo

Tetsuto Yamada drove in three runs and scored three times in the Tokyo Yakult Swallows’ 12-6 victory over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Tuesday, handing last year’s Japan Series champions their first interleague loss.

In front of 28,154 at Jingu Stadium, the Swallows won their sixth straight and tied the Hawks for the interleague lead. The win streak, which lifted Yakult out of last place in the Central League, is the club’s longest in three years.

Leadoff man Yamada went 2-for-4, while former major leaguer Norichika Aoki went 3-for-4 with four RBIs. Yamada opened the scoring in the bottom of the first. He singled off righty Tadashi Settsu (1-1) and scored on Aoki’s double. Settsu struggled with his command and needed 32 pitches to close the inning.

Kenta Imamiya’s second-inning, two-run home run off left-hander Masanori Ishikawa (3-2) gave the visitors a temporary lead. But after a hit and an error put Swallows runners on first and third in the bottom of the inning, Yamada blasted a three-run shot to put Yakult ahead for good.

With the Hawks trailing 5-3 in the fourth, right-hander Ken Okamoto replaced Settsu, but allowed seven runs before getting an out. Aoki drove in three runs with his third homer of the season.

“I really wanted to beat SoftBank because both of us are doing well in interleague,” Aoki said. “It felt really good. Ishikawa and I have lockers next to each other, and he whispered that he wants to win today, so his face came to mind when I homered.”

The 38-year-old Ishikawa pitched six innings to pick up his first win at home this season. He allowed three runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out four.

In the top of the fourth, Tomoya Ichikawa homered for the first time since arriving in an April trade from the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. Seiji Uebayashi bagged three runs for the visitors in the eighth when he homered for his fourth straight game.

Settsu allowed five runs — four earned — on six hits over three innings. The 36-year-old was making his second start of the season after claiming his first win in two years in late May.

Eagles 4, Giants 1

At Tokyo Dome, fifth-year right-hander Yuri Furukawa (1-1) allowed a run in five innings, and Eigoro Mogi opened the scoring with a third-inning, two-run home run as Tohoku Rakuten beat Yomiuri for its first interleague win.

Lions 8, BayStars 1

At Yokohama Stadium, Fabio Castillo (4-3) allowed a run in seven innings, Tomoya Mori doubled and scored to break a 1-1 tie on Takeya Nakamura’s sacrifice fly and Pacific League-leading Seibu hit four late homers in a blowout victory over Yokohama.

Buffaloes 3, Tigers 2

At Koshien Stadium, lefty Andrew Albers (7-1) allowed two runs in 6-2/3 innings to win his fifth straight decision as Orix came from a run down in the fifth on solo home runs by Masataka Yoshida and Chris Marrero in a Kansai derby win over Hanshin.

Marines 4, Dragons 1

At Nagoya Dome, Ayumu Ishikawa (6-3) allowed a run in seven innings, and Shogo Nakamura broke up a 1-1 pitchers’ duel with a two-run, seventh-inning home run in Chiba Lotte’s triumph over Chunichi.

Fighters at Carp — ppd.