Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Katsuki Azuma, Jose Lopez help BayStars topple Giants

Kyodo

Left-hander Katsuki Azuma pitched eight strong innings and Jose Lopez hit two home runs in the Yokohama BayStars’ 6-1 win on Wednesday over the Yomiuri Giants.

In front of 44,544 at Tokyo Dome, Azuma (11-5) pitched seven perfect innings before surrendering a solo home run to Casey McGehee with two outs in the seventh inning.

With the win over third-place Yomiuri, Yokohama moved up to fourth place in the Central League standings. The Tokyo Yakult Swallows are in second place behind the Hiroshima Carp.

Azuma, the BayStars’ first pick in the 2017 draft, bounced back and retired the Giants in order in the eighth inning and completed a two-hitter with left-hander Edwin Escobar.

“I couldn’t expect something better. He (Azuma) was unbelievable today,” BayStars manager Alex Ramirez said.

Lopez went 2-for-4 with four RBIs. He came up in the third inning with two outs, and hit his 150th career homer, a three-run shot, off lefty Mitsuo Yoshikawa (6-6).

The Venezuelan blasted his second homer of the day in the fifth against right-hander Ryoma Nogami to make it a 6-0 game.

“We’re in a very important place in the season, so I want to help all pitchers, not just Azuma,” Lopez said. “I think it’s important for us — both the pitchers and the fielders — to concentrate on each and every game.”

“I know it’s not easy but I hope we can deliver our 100 percent and advance to the playoffs.”

Yamato Maeda put Yokohama on the scoreboard with a first-inning homer, and doubled in another run in the fourth inning.

“We got the momentum right away with Yamato leading off with that home run, it was really, really good,” Ramirez said. “And Lopez hitting (his) 150th home run today, that was huge. We did a tremendous job today. It was totally a team effort.”

Giants starter Yoshikawa surrendered five runs, four earned, on five hits and three walks over 3⅔ innings.

Swallows 9, Tigers 4

At Jingu Stadium, former major leaguer Norichika Aoki tied the game and Tetsuto Yamada hit a two-run homer during Tokyo Yakult’s six-run first inning.

Naomichi Nishiura went 3-for-4 with five RBIs and Yuma Oshita picked up the win for pitching two scoreless innings in relief as the Swallows beat Hanshin.

PACIFIC LEAGUE

Lions 12, Fighters 4

At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, left-hander Daiki Enokida (10-4) threw seven innings and earned his 10th win as PL-leading Seibu defeated Hokkaido Nippon Ham.

Sosuke Genda and Hideto Asamura hit back-to-back home runs in the Lions’ four-run third inning.

Eagles 6, Buffaloes 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Zelous Wheeler singled in two runs to tie the game, and Ginji Akaminai hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning as Tohoku Rakuten came from behind to beat Orix.

Hawks 3, Marines 0

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, reliever Shuta Ishikawa (12-6) picked up the win for pitching an inning and Yuito Mori earned his 29th save in Fukuoka SoftBank’s victory over Lotte.

Yurisbel Gracial broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double in SoftBank’s three-run eighth inning.