ASAHIKAWA, HOKKAIDO - Left-hander Takayuki Kato retired 20 of the 22 batters he faced Wednesday night as the Nippon Ham Fighters churned out a 4-0 win against the Pacific League-leading Seibu Lions.
Kato (5-6), the Fighters’ second pick in the 2015 draft, yielded a single to Shogo Akiyama in the fourth inning at Hokkaido’s Asahikawa Starffin Stadium but got his next batter to ground into a double play.
The left-hander allowed a single to Fumikazu Kimura in the sixth but avoided one from Sosuke Genda after a close play at first was challenged and ruled an out. Fighters catcher Shinya Tsuruoka deftly nabbed a fly foul to cap the inning.
In the first, Daiki Enokida (9-3) gave up a pair of singles and a run on Sho Nakata’s sacrifice fly. Tsuruoka doubled in the Fighters’ second run, sailing one just outside of Kimura’s reach despite the right fielder’s diving effort.
In the fourth, Brandon Laird led off with a single, reached third on Tsuruoka’s hit and came around to make it 3-0 on Kenshi Sugiya’s sac fly.
Kensuke Kondo drove in the final run in the seventh against recently-acquired reliever Ryuya Ogawa. Naoki Miyanishi threw a 1-2-3 eighth and Naoya Ishikawa allowed a hit but fanned the final batter to close out the victory.
The third-place Fighters improved to 64-53, five games back of the Lions, who remain in command of the PL at 69-48.
Eagles 9, Buffaloes 8
Marines 11, Hawks 3
Baystars 6, Giants 3
Swallows 6, Dragons 5
Tigers 11, Carp 3