FUKUOKA – The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks bullpen squandered a two-run lead on Sunday as the Chiba Lotte Marines came back for a 5-4 win to claim the three-game series in the Pacific League.
Ariel Miranda allowed two runs and struck out four over five solid innings at Yafuoku Dome, but Hawks relievers struggled in the second half of the game as Shogo Nakamura delivered a game-winning RBI in the seventh.
Alfredo Despaigne and Kenta Imamiya each homered and drove in a combined four runs against Ayumu Ishikawa (1-2), but the right-hander hung in for six innings while striking out six and was credited with the win.
Seiya Inoue added the Marines’ first run with a leadoff homer off Miranda in the fourth. In the fifth, Takashi Ogino belted a deep shot to right that Ukyo Shuto was unable to grab, and Daichi Suzuki drove to right field again to bring him home.
SoftBank rookie reliever Keisuke Izumi got off to a shaky start in the top of the sixth and was replaced by Ren Kajiya after issuing two walks. Kajiya fared no better, loading the bases on a walk and yielding a run on another before coaxing an inning-ending groundout from Ogino on a full count.
Ishikawa got himself into a bases-loaded jam in the home half of the sixth on a walk and two singles, but fanned Hawks catcher Takuya Kai to keep the Marines alive.
In the seventh, SoftBank lefty Shinya Kayama gave up two straight hits and was quickly replaced by rookie Hiroshi Kaino. The first-year pitcher let Inoue drive in the game-tying run and gave up a one-out, go-ahead single to Nakamura before leaving the field with the bases loaded.
Ryoma Matsuda was called to the mound and produced the final two outs of the inning, but the Hawks were unable to recover. Kayama (0-1) was tagged with the runs and his first loss of the season.
Marines reliever Tomohito Sakai added his name to the list of pitchers to load the bases in Sunday’s game, doing so on a hit and two walks but escaping unscathed. Naoya Masuda retired the side in order in the ninth for his 10th save.
Lions 6, Fighters 3
At Sapporo Dome, the Saitama Seibu Lions ended a five-game losing skid with a win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
Seibu slugger Hotaka Yamakawa homered twice and became the fastest player in Japanese baseball history to hit 100 home runs. He accomplished the feat in 321 games, 30 games faster than the previous record holder, former Lion Koji Akiyama.
Eagles 8, Buffaloes 5
At Hotto Motto Field Kobe, the Rakuten Eagles went ahead for good in the eighth following back-to-back RBIs from Hiroaki Shimauchi and Zelous Wheeler in an 8-5 win over the Orix Buffaloes.
The Eagles posted a season-high 20 hits, including seven off Orix starter Andrew Albers and nine against Tyler Eppler (0-1), who took his first loss in Japan.
Carp 8, BayStars 1
At Mazda Stadium in Hiroshima, Makoto Aduwa (1-1) held the visitors to a run over nine strong innings without issuing a walk, while Seiya Suzuki’s three-run homer in the first put the Hiroshima Carp on track to beat the Yokohama BayStars.
Swallows 4, Giants 1
At Tokyo Dome, the Yakult Swallows went ahead on RBIs from Kotaro Yamasaki and Yuhei Takai and Shingo Kawabata, while Hirotoshi Takanashi (1-0) held the home team to a run over five innings on the way to a win over the Yomiuri Giants.
With a first-inning single, Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto set a new CL record for getting on base in 36 straight games since the start of the season.
Sakamoto broke the 1997 record set by prolific NPB hitter Tomoaki Kanemoto during his stint with the Hiroshima Carp. Former Lions third baseman Steve Ontiveros owns the PL record for reaching base 40 straight times in 1983.
Dragons 5, Tigers 2
At Koshien Stadium in Nishinomiya, Tatsuya Shimizu (1-0) got the win in his first pro start after Yohei Oshima’s second-inning RBI triple retook the visitor’s lead in the Chunichi Dragons’ win over the Hanshin Tigers.
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5