Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Rookie starter Wataru Matsumoto keeps Lions hot on Hawks' heels

Kyodo

Rookie Wataru Matsumoto worked seven innings for the Seibu Lions, who moved into a virtual tie for the Pacific League lead on Friday with a 6-1 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Matsumoto (7-3) struck out eight over seven scoreless innings, while walking five and allowing two singles to win his second straight start.

“My fastball had good run to it, so I established that and then was careful about my control and my tempo,” Matsumoto said. “I’ve come out of a lot of games in the fifth or sixth, so I’m glad to be able to work real innings.

“I was quite nervous, but I tried to ignore that and just focus on my pitching on the mound.”

The Lions remain second in the PL with a .557 winning percentage, just shy of the league-leading Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks’ .559.

Seibu leadoff man Shogo Akiyama singled, doubled and homered, scoring two runs and driving in two. He singled to open the home half of the first at MetLife Dome off Mike Bolsinger (4-6), who gave up four runs over five innings. Takeya Nakamura doubled in the first to drive in the game’s first run.

Akiyama led off the Lions’ three-run third with a double and scored on a Tomoya Mori single. After Takumi Kuriyama drew a two-out walk, Shuta Tonosaki capped the rally with an RBI single. When the Marines trapped Tonosaki in a rundown between second and third, Kuriyama scored Seibu’s fourth run of the game.

With two outs and a man on in the sixth, Akiyama hit his 20th homer of the season.

Closer Tatsushi Masuda entered the game with two outs in the ninth and the bases loaded. He retired the only batter he faced to earn his 28th save, matching the career high he reached in 2016 and 2017.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 7, Dragons 1

At Nagoya Dome, Yuki Nishi (8-8) allowed one run over seven innings as Hanshin routed Chunichi.

Kosuke Fukudome highlighted a four-run third inning against his former team with a three-run home run.

Giants 5, Carp 1

At Tokyo Dome, Shun Yamaguchi (14-4) allowed a run over 7-2/3 innings, while striking out 10 as Yomiuri defeated Hiroshima.

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