Wataru Matsumoto held the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks to a run over six innings and Kaima Taira tied a Nippon Professional Baseball record of 38 straight games without giving up a run as the Saitama Seibu Lions won 5-2 in the Pacific League on Monday.
Matsumoto (7-3) surrendered an RBI single in the first to Ryoya Kurihara for the only run before battling his way back to outpitch SoftBank starter Colin Rea (1-1), who gave up five runs, four earned, also over six innings at Kyocera Dome Osaka.
Wataru Takagi’s RBI double in the third tied the game before Takeya Nakamura’s solo homer in the fourth turned the game around for Seibu. Wu Nien-ting’s bases-loaded double and Hotaka Yamakawa’s sacrifice fly in the sixth put the game beyond the reach of SoftBank.
Matsumoto allowed five hits and walked three in a 107-pitch effort for Seibu. Rae gave up seven hits and a walk and Yuya Hasegawa’s RBI single in the eighth did little to change the course of the game, wrapped up by Taira who recorded his 10th save.
The Okinawa-native struck two of the three batters he faced in the ninth and tied former big-leaguer and Hanshin Tigers great Kyuji Fujikawa for the record.
“I’ve been taking one step at a time to get here and I’m happy,” said the right-hander, selected for the Japan team for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. “I had it in my head a little bit but was focused on having a scoreless inning…I won’t change and will keep taking one step at a time.”
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