Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Zach Neal records eighth victory as Lions pull away late against Fighters

Kyodo

Zach Neal tossed six solid innings on Tuesday and picked up his eighth win of the season as the Seibu Lions’ offense ignited late for an 8-2 win against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

The former major leaguer struck out three while holding the Fighters to two runs at Kushiro Stadium and improved to 8-1 over 13 games in his first year in Japan.

“It was just a good team win,” Neal said. “I just tried to control what I can control and let the guys behind me work. We put up another eight spots and I’m just happy to be on the right side of it.”

Fighters starter Bryan Rodriguez battled control issues through five mixed innings, but the Dominican right-hander only allowed two runs, one earned, before Nippon Ham’s bullpen gave up a combined six runs on eight hits.

Sosuke Genda put the Lions on the board in the first after singling to left field, advancing to third on a wild throw and scoring on a sacrifice fly.

In the third, Taishi Ota singled, stole second and took third on a wild pitch, and tied the game for the Fighters on Kensuke Kondo’s double to left center.

Rodriguez nearly escaped a jam in a hard-fought fifth before Seibu cleanup man Takeya Nakamura belted an RBI single to left to put the Lions ahead 2-1. Ota responded in the bottom of the inning with a game-tying single off Neal following a double from Haruki Nishikawa.

The Nippon Ham bullpen yielded the go-ahead run with no outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, when Shuta Tonosaki crossed the plate as the defense turned a double play on Yuji Kaneko’s grounder.

Takumi Kuriyama extended the visitors’ lead with a two-run double in the seventh before the designated hitter scored on Hotaka Yamakawa’s run-scoring double. Shogo Akiyama and Tomoya Mori contributed RBIs in the eighth.

Eagles 5, Marines 2 (10)

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Jabari Blash blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the 10th to lead Tohoku Rakuten to a sayonara victory over Chiba Lotte.

Hawks at Buffaloes — ppd.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Carp 2, Giants 0

At Tokyo Dome, left-hander Kris Johnson (9-7) pitched seven solid innings in Hiroshima’s win over Yomiuri.

Ryuhei Matsuyama opened the scoring with a second-inning, solo home run.

BayStars 5, Swallows 3

At Yokohama Stadium, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo broke a seventh-inning tie with an RBI single as Yokohama came from behind to beat Tokyo Yakult.

Dragons at Tigers — ppd.

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