Kodai Senga struck out eight over seven innings as the Fukouka SoftBank Hawks ace pitched the defending Pacific League champs to a 5-2 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Thursday.

Senga (4-1) allowed two runs at Fukuoka's PayPay Dome, but none before he held a 5-0 lead through five innings. He gave up six hits and walked two as the fourth-place Hawks moved to within 1½ games of the third-place Eagles.

"I was barely able to pitch in the first part of the season, so I intend to win every game in the second half," said Senga, who missed over three months after injuring his ankle in his season debut but has now won three straight starts.