Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Fighters hurler Kohei Arihara improves to 5-1 with banner performance against Eagles

Kyodo

Kohei Arihara threw four-hit ball over eight innings behind a strong defense on Tuesday as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters opened a three-game series against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles with a 13-1 win.

The Fighters starter fanned seven at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi while holding the home team to a run, and picked up a Pacific League-leading fifth win for his efforts.

His opponent, Yoshinao Kamata (1-1), was solid through six innings but little offensive support and late bullpen trouble resulted in the right-hander’s first loss of the season.

Arihara (5-1) allowed a single, a walk and a hit batter to load the bases in the Fighters’ opening frame, but a timely double play ended the threat. The 26-year-old retired 20 of the next 25 batters he faced with the support of Nippon Ham’s defense, which turned another double play in the fourth.

Kamata did not allow a runner past second until the fifth, when Wang Po-jung drew a walk and came around to score the Fighters’ first run on a single from Ryo Watanabe, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly. Takuya Nakashima drove in Watanabe to double the visitor’s lead before Kamata coaxed an inning-ending groundout.

In the sixth, Kazuya Fujita notched his 1,000th career hit with a one-out single, but the infielder was left stranded after Arihara fanned Pacific League RBI king Hideto Asamura and Hiroaki Shimauchi grounded out.

Haruki Nishikawa and Kensuke Kondo delivered RBI singles in the seventh to make it 4-0, but Zelous Wheeler broke the Eagles’ drought in the bottom of the inning with a leadoff solo shot as Arihara was tagged with his only run of the game.

The Fighters broke the game open and batted around in the eighth when Rakuten reliever Kenji Tomura fell into multiple bases-loaded binds and yielded eight earned runs on seven hits and three walks. Kazunari Ishii delivered a two-run homer and Taishi Ota, Yuya Taniguchi and Watanabe all provided insurance.

The Fighters improved to 19-17 in the race to catch up to the PL-leading Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, while the Eagles fell to 18-18.

Lions 11, Hawks 7

At Kitakyushu Municipal Stadium, red-hot Seibu batters combined for 17 hits, including four home runs, in a victory over Fukuoka SoftBank.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 4, Giants 2

At Tokyo Dome, Fumiya Hojo tied the game with an RBI single and Kento Itohara drove in two runs in the seventh inning to lift Hanshin past Yomiuri.

Carp 9, Swallows 4

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Kyle Regnault (2-0) picked up the win for pitching 1-1/3 innings in the hosts’ comeback victory over Tokyo Yakult.

Dragons at BayStars — ppd.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5