Ryoya Kurihara’s two-run fifth-inning double capped a rally by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in a 4-3 Pacific League victory over the Orix Buffaloes on Thursday.
With closer Yuito Mori sidelined, ace middle reliever Livan Moinelo worked around a pair of one-out singles in the ninth inning to lock down the victory and earn his first save of the season.
The Buffaloes opened the scoring at Fukuoka’s PayPay Dome in a three-run fifth off right-hander Shota Takeda (1-1), only for the Hawks to counterattack in the home half against Orix starter Hirotoshi Masui (1-2).
A walk and two singles with one out made it a 3-1 game before Masui retired the Hawks’ most dangerous hitter, Yuki Yanagita, for the second out. But a throwing error on an infield single made it 3-2 and set the table for Kurihara. The 24-year-old young gun drilled a fat pitch to the wall to give Softbank the lead.
“The veterans set the table for me and I wanted to do what I could to ride that momentum they created,” Kurihara said.
Takeda did not return to the mound after allowing three runs on two walks, a hit batsman and six hits over five innings. Five relievers finished the job to secure the win.
The victory lifted the four-time defending Japan Series champs into first place following a loss by the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Marines 7, Eagles 3
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Lotte got five scoreless innings from Daiki Iwashita (2-1) in its win over the Eagles.
Tigers 4, Carp 0
At Nishinomiya’s Koshien Stadium, Takumi Akiyama (2-1) worked seven innings, while Yusuke Oyama and rookie Teruaki Sato each hit two-run home runs in the Central League-leading Tigers’ win over Hiroshima, which has not scored a run in 31 consecutive innings. Hanshin Tigers’ 4-0 win over the Hiroshima Carp, who have not scored for 31 consecutive innings.
Giants 5, Dragons 1
At Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri lefty Yuki Takahashi (3-0) allowed a run over eight innings in win over Chunichi.
Swallows 2, BayStars 1
At Jingu Stadium, Yuhei Nakamura and Munetaka Murakami each homered in the first inning for Yakult.
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