Baseball / Japanese Baseball

PL-leading Lions ride Takumi Kuriyama’s grand slam to sweep of second-place Hawks

Kyodo

Takumi Kuriyama hit a grand slam and helped the Seibu Lions widen their lead in the Pacific League with an 8-1 win against the second-place Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Monday.

With the victory, the Lions saw gained a magic number of 11 toward clinching the PL pennant for the first time in 10 years.

In his fifth start for the Hawks, lefty Ariel Miranda (3-1) got into a one-out, bases-loaded jam on a hit and two walks in the first inning.

Kuriyama took two balls and a strike from the Cuban former major leaguer before blasting a grand slam into the center field stands at MetLife Dome.

Miranda issued six walks and gave up five hits over 3⅔ innings to suffer his first loss in Japan.

Seibu starter Brian Wolfe was hit on his right thigh by a line drive from Kenji Akashi and left the game in the third inning. The right-hander retired six of seven batters in the first two innings but yielded a solo home run to Seiji Uebayashi.

Shota Takekuma, who relieved Wolfe, got into a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but Lions right-hander Tatsushi Masuda took the mound and induced an inning-ending double play with his first pitch.

In the seventh, Takeya Nakamura took Robert Suarez deep to right for a three-run shot and his 26th homer of the season.

Shogo Akiyama bounced a ground rule double over the center field wall to lead off the eighth, and crossed the plate on Hideto Asamura’s sacrifice fly for the game’s final run.

Masuda (1-4) pitched 1⅔ hitless innings and earned his first win of the season.

The Lions won their fourth straight game and improved to 76-50, while the Hawks fell to 68-55 and sit one game behind the third-place Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

Fighters 4, Buffaloes 2

At Sapporo Dome, rookie Tsubasa Sakakibara threw one-hit ball and fanned four in five innings, but the Orix bullpen blew a two-run lead in the sixth against Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Naoyuki Uwasawa (11-5) gave up two runs but hung in for seven innings and picked up the win.

Eagles 7, Marines 2

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Yasuhito Uchida doubled Tohoku Rakuten’s lead with a two-run homer in the fourth, and doubled in another run in a two-run sixth.

Kazuki Tanaka homered late, and Shoma Fujihira (4-6) tossed a three-hit complete game and held Lotte to two runs.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 4, Giants 2

At Tokyo Dome, Nobumasa Fukuda blasted a three-run homer against Cristopher Mercedes (5-4) in the sixth, while Onelki Garcia (13-7) fanned five and scattered five hits over seven innings to lead Chunichi over Yomiuri.

Former major leaguer Joely Rodriguez earned his first save in Japan after retiring the last four Giants.

BayStars 6, Tigers 4 (10)

At Yokohama Stadium, Naomasa Yokawa hit a go-ahead RBI double in the eighth to overturn BayStars slugger Neftali Soto’s two-run go-ahead shot in the first.

Toshiro Miyazaki equalized with an eighth-inning solo shot, and Soto hammered another two-run bomb in extra innings against Rafael Dolis (1-6) for the walk-off win.