Sendai – Sixth-inning home runs by Hotaka Yamakawa and Takeya Nakamura brought the Seibu Lions from three runs down in a 4-3 win over the Pacific League-leading Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Saturday.
With a three-run lead at Sendai's Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Eagles lefty Takahiro Shiomi left too many pitches up in the zone and paid the price in the form of a four-run Lions comeback.
Singles by Sosuke Genda and Shuta Tonosaki put runners on the corners with no outs for Yamakawa, who has led the PL in home runs the past two seasons.
Shiomi missed up with a first-pitch fastball and Yamakawa drove it nearly as far as the merry-go-round that sits beyond the seats in left field. It was his eighth home run of the season.
With one out, Takeya Nakamura, who has six PL home run titles under his belt, crushed a 3-2 forkball that hung up in the zone for his third homer this year.
Lions starter Wataru Matsumoto (1-2) who was punished for his mistakes in a three-run first inning on home runs by Eigoro Mogi and Hiroaki Shimauchi, lasted five innings to earn the win. The right-hander gave up six hits and two walks while striking out one.
With two outs in the seventh and a pair of dangerous right-handed hitters coming up, the Lions turned to their new setup man, first-year import Reed Garrett. The right-hander ended the seventh by getting Jabari Blash to ground out, and then retired Hideto Asamura to start a 1-2-3 eighth.
Tatsushi Masuda worked a 1-2-3 ninth to record his seventh save.
Shiomi (1-3) allowed nine hits and a walk while striking out four. New import J. T. Chargois worked around a pair of walks to pitch 1-1/3 innings of scoreless relief but the Eagles were unable to make a dent against the Lions relievers.
At Sapporo Dome, reserve catcher Tomoya Kakinuma's two-run fourth-inning double broke a 2-2 tie, while right-hander Atsuki Taneichi (2-1) allowed two runs, both on solo homers, over seven innings for the Chiba Lotte Marines in a 5-2 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
At Osaka's Kyocera Dome, Yuki Yanagita's ninth home run, a towering blast that hit the light ring attached to the dome's ceiling, opened the scoring in the sixth inning and Shuta Ishikawa (3-0) worked six scoreless innings for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in their 2-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes.
In the Central League, Angel Sanchez (3-2) allowed two runs, one earned, while striking out nine in eight-plus innings for the Yomiuri Giants in a 4-2 win over the Yokohama DeNA BayStars at Yokohama Stadium.
At Koshien Stadium, Yuki Nishi (2-1) allowed three runs over the distance while striking out seven and squeezing in a run in the Hanshin Tigers' 8-3 win over the Chunichi Dragons.
At Hiroshima's Mazda Stadium, back-to-back RBI singles by Naoki Nishiura and Alcides Escobar brought in three runs and snapped a 2-2 tie and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows held on to beat the Hiroshima Carp 9-4. Yasuhiro Ogawa allowed two runs over six innings to improve to a league best 4-0.