FUKUOKA - Former Seattle Mariners lefty Ariel Miranda did not allow a hit until the ninth inning, and Nobuhiro Matsuda homered twice to lead the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to a 5-1 victory over the Seibu Lions on Saturday.
Miranda (2-0), pitching in his second game for the Hawks, lost his bid for a no-hitter when Lions leadoff man Shogo Akiyama opened the ninth inning with a single.
“I entered the game in good physical condition and was able to execute,” said Miranda, who signed with the Hawks last month and struck out eight. “This may have been the best game I’ve ever pitched.
“Right until the end, I wasn’t too concerned with pitching a no-hitter. I am very happy that we won again.”
The victory by the second-place Hawks was their eighth straight and moved them to within six games of the Pacific League-leading Lions.
Matsuda put SoftBank ahead in the first against Seibu right-hander Ken Togame (5-8) with an RBI single and made it a 2-0 game in the fourth with his 25th home run of the year and his fifth off Togame.
“The two batters before me had walked (in the first), and my intent was just to keep things going,” Matsuda said. “On the pitch before I hit the home run, I broke my bat, and Keizo (Kawashima) gave me his and it was a good one.”
Yurisbel Gracial, who walked twice and scored in his first two plate appearances, opened the sixth with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly by Akira Nakamura.
Togame allowed three runs on four hits and six walks, while striking out four over 6-1/3 innings. When he left the mound, Matsuda had raised his career batting average against him to .619.
“Togame is a good pitcher and I think what’s happening is I’m just trying to keep it simple and hit it back up the middle,” Matsuda said. “The next time I face him, I want to do my best and get a hit.”
The Hawks added two insurance runs in the eighth on solo homers by Yuki Yanagita and Matsuda off reliever Tatsushi Masuda.
The Lions broke up the shutout with one out in the ninth, when Akiyama scored on a double by Hideto Asamura. With two outs, Miranda issued his fourth walk of the game and Yuito Mori struck out six-time home run champ Takeya Nakamura to record his 25th save.
Eagles 3, Fighters 3 (12)
At Sapporo Dome, Tohoku Rakuten’s Hiroaki Shimauchi hit a game-tying solo homer in the ninth inning after rookie Kotaro Kiyomiya yielded a solo homer to Hokkaido Nippon Ham in the eighth.
Neither team managed another run before the game was called after 12 innings.
Marines 6, Buffaloes 5
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Seiya Inoue drove in three runs and his third hit of the game brought home the winning run in the ninth inning as Chiba Lotte prevailed against Orix.
Giants 6, Tigers 0
At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri’s Tomoyuki Sugano (11-7) pitched out of a first-inning jam with the help of a botched sacrifice bunt by Hanshin and struck out 12 en route to his second straight shutout and his fifth of the season.
Carp 6, Dragons 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Ryosuke Kikuchi’s three-run, first-inning home run trumped Ryosuke Hirata’s leadoff blast in the top of the first, and Daichi Osera (14-5) allowed two runs over seven innings as Hiroshima downed Chunichi.
Swallows 9, BayStars 7
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Tokyo Yakult hammered Joe Wieland (4-9) for seven runs over five innings and held on to beat Yokohama.
The Swallows overcome two homers from Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Keita Sano’s three-run, pinch-hit homer.