The Pacific League-leading Orix Buffaloes rode solo home runs from rookie Kotaro Kurebayashi, Olympic team member Masataka Yoshida and slugger Yutaro Sugimoto to beat the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters 3-1 on Wednesday and win their 11th consecutive decision.
The win streak is the franchise’s longest since the Hankyu Braves managed the feat in 1984 en route to a PL pennant. The Buffaloes, who finished last in each of the last two seasons, are looking for the franchise’s first PL pennant since 1996, when Ichiro Suzuki led the Orix BlueWave to the Japan Series title.
Kurebayashi opened the scoring in the third inning at Kyocera Dome Osaka, leading off with his fifth home run, off Fighters starter Takahide Ikeda (3-7).
Yoshida hit his 13th of the season with two outs in the inning. After Nippon Ham made it 2-1 in the top of the sixth, Sugimoto belted his 15th to complete the scoring.
Buffaloes lefty Daiki Tajima (4-4) struck out eight over 5-⅔ innings while allowing a run on one walk and six hits. Four relievers finished up, with former major leaguer Yoshihisa Hirano striking out two in a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his ninth save.
Orix manager Satoshi Nakajima, who began his pro career with Hankyu, said his team was trying not to think about the streak.
“We’re just trying to focus on the one game ahead of us and do our best,” he said. “I’ll have to ask some of my old teammates what that (1984 streak) was like. It was before my time.”
Eagles 6, Lions 4
At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Masahiro Tanaka (3-4) allowed four runs over six innings but qualified for the win after his teammates came from behind with two runs in the seventh.
Hawks 1, Marines 1
At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, SoftBank’s Nobuhiro Matsuda tied the game with a third-inning home run as the two teams finished tied.
Dragons 6, Tigers 2
At Vantelin Dome Nagoya, Naomichi Donoue’s two-out, three-run double capped a four-run seventh-inning outburst against reliever Shintaro Fujinami (3-2) in Chunichi’s win over Central League-leading Hanshin.
Giants 4, BayStars 2
At Toyama Alpen Stadium, Yoshihiro Maru homered twice and drove in three runs for Yomiuri.
Shun Yamaguchi (1-0) started and won his first game in Japan since moving to the major leagues after the 2019 season.
Swallows 8, Carp 5
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Jose Osuna’s three-run third-inning home run was a big blow for Yakult.
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