Zach Neal delivered a vintage performance, allowing one run over six innings to pitch the Seibu Lions to a 7-2 victory over the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on Thursday.
Neal (1-1) who went 12-1 in his 2019 Japan debut season but 6-8 a year ago, allowed a walk and six hits while striking out four.
“I was excited to get out in front of Lions fans again. It feels good to be home,” he said after his first start of the season at MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.
“(There was) a lot of really good defense behind me. The Hawks are a good team so I knew I had to be on my ‘A’ game and bring it tonight.”
With the Lions leading 2-1 in the sixth, Neal surrendered back-to-back two-out singles, but got out of the inning with a comebacker to the mound for the final out.
“I was starting to sweat a little bit. I got out of it with a ground ball and was able to go six innings, so it was a good team win,” said Neal, who pitched in the majors for the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Taiwan’s Wu Nien-ting homered off Shuta Ishikawa (2-3) to open the scoring in the second. The Hawks tied it in the fifth on a Wladimir Balentien double and a Kenta Imamiya single, only for Seibu to move in front for good in the home half.
Cory Spangenberg, who reached base three times and scored twice, walked and scored on a Sosuke Genda sacrifice fly. Takumi Kuriyama homered for the Lions in the sixth, and Seibu blew the game open in a four-run seventh.
Ishikawa was charged with three runs over six innings.
Fighters 4, Eagles 1
At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Wang Po-jung hit his third homer and drove in another run with a bases-loaded walk to lead Hokkaido Nippon Ham to a win over PL-leading Rakuten.
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