Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Lions display moxie in 10th-inning triumph over Buffaloes

Kyodo

Hotaka Yamakawa and Tomoya Mori each knocked in two runs, with Mori driving home Yamakawa with the game winner as the Seibu Lions rallied from six runs down to beat the Orix Buffaloes 7-6 in 10 innings on Tuesday night.

Mori, who had doubled in a run and scored the tying run in Seibu’s two-run eighth inning, came up with Yamakawa on first and one out against reliever Akira Yamamoto (1-1) and launched the first pitch the other way, into the gap in left center.

The stout Yamakawa, who scored his third run of the game, had done his part to erase the Lions’ deficit with a two-run, sixth-inning homer.

In the 10th, he had nearly grounded into a double play, but was safe at first after he slid in head first, the second straight Lions batter to get dirty going down the line.

“That gave me goosebumps,” Mori said. “I was thinking that if I hit a grounder to an infielder, I was going to slide head first, too, but I’m glad I got that hit. I hit it well enough but I didn’t think it was going to find the gap.”

Yamakawa, whose home run raised his NPB-best total to 32, barreled around the bases and scored easily, although Mori joked his teammate’s lack of speed was agonizing.

“I was thinking, ‘Man is he slow,’ but in the end he could score so that was OK in the end,” Mori said with a laugh.

The run made a winner out of recent acquisition Kyle Martin (1-0) who had pitched a scoreless 10th.

Lions starter Shinsaburo Tawata bounced back from a rough first inning, when he allowed six runs, and lasted eight innings. Deunte Heath pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.

“The excitement of the fans was awesome,” Martin said of the MetLife Dome crowd of 27,628. They brought a great energy today. I’m very excited to get my first win, but it was a team win. The hitters played great, the clutch hitting was awesome.

“Our hitters never quit and our starting pitcher never quit.”

Tawata, who entered the game 5-0 against Orix in five starts this season, walked the first batter he faced, and gave up a line-drive single to the second. After a wild pitch, former Lion Hiroyuki Nakajima hit a smash to second baseman Hideto Asamura, whose wide throw home allowed two runs to score. Four singles followed before a double play ended the inning with the Buffaloes leading 6-0.

Solo home runs by Shuta Tonosaki in the second and Ernesto Mejia in the third put Seibu on the board. Orix starter Andrew Albers, pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the fourth, and did not give up another hit until Asamura singled to open the sixth.

Yamakawa followed with his home run to make it a 6-4 game, and after Albers retired the left-handed-hitting Mori, the Buffaloes bullpen entered and took charge until an error opened the door in the bottom of the eighth.

Against hard thrower Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Yamakawa reached on a one-out, two-base throwing error and scored on Mori’s double. With two outs, Takeya Nakamura doubled Mori home to tie it and take Tawata off the hook.

The right-hander bounced back from his nightmare first inning with four straight 1-2-3 innings. He was charged with six runs — four earned — over eight innings. Tawata gave up seven hits, two walks and a hit batsman, while striking out two.

Hawks 2, Eagles 1

At Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome, Fukuoka SoftBank’s Nao Higashihama (2-5), who tied for the PL lead in wins last year with 16, threw six shutout innings to outduel Tohoku Rakuten’s Takahiro Norimoto (5-9).

Alfredo Despaigne singled in both Hawks runs in the first inning as Higashihama won for the first time since beating the Eagles on April 17.

Marines 3, Fighters 1

At Sapporo Dome, Yudai Fujioka, Shogo Nakamura and Daichi Suzuki each had an RBI single as Chiba Lotte’s lineup battered Hokkaido Nippon Ham starter Kohei Arihara (7-3) in a five-hit, three-run sixth inning.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 7, Carp 4

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, veteran Yoshio Itoi had four hits and drove in three runs to power a come-from-behind victory as Hanshin beat league-leading Hiroshima for just the fifth time in 15 games this season.

BayStars 6, Dragons 5

At Nagoya Dome, Toshihiko Kuramoto singled in the tie-breaking run as Yokohama scored twice in the ninth inning to edge last-place Chunichi.

Swallows 6, Giants 5

At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Shingo Kawabata’s two-run, bases-loaded single off Samuel Adames (0-1) lifted Tokyo Yakult to a walk-off triumph after Yomiuri overcame a four-run deficit in a five-run eighth inning.