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Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012

Fighters widen Pacific League lead


SAPPORO — Taiwan international Yang Dai-kang broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run, seventh-inning single as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines 5-2 at Sapporo Dome on Wednesday.

The victory, combined with the Seibu Lions' 3-2 loss to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, increased the Fighters' Pacific League lead to two games. The Marines' defeat dropped them into fifth place, a half-game back of the Eagles.

The Marines tied the game in the top of the sixth on a two-run homer by Toshiaki Imae, but lefty Yuya Ishii (1-1) shut the visitors down in the top of the seventh and the Fighters mounted a rally against right-hander Shingo Ono (2-5) after two were out in the home half of the inning.

Catcher Shota Ono reached on an infield single and No. 9 hitter Makoto Kaneko doubled him to third. The injury-scarred 36-year-old Kaneko then hustled home to score from second as Yang hit the first pitch into center.

"I wasn't looking for a particular pitch," the Fighters All-Star center fielder said after the game in the on-field hero interview. "I just wanted to hit whatever came."

"I owe a debt to Kaneko. His physical condition isn't that good, but he ran hard. If he hadn't done that, I wouldn't be standing here now," he said.

The Marines had a chance to tie it in the ninth against closer Hisashi Takeda, but with two on and one out cleanup hitter Josh Whitesell's bid for a three-run home run was caught in deep center by Yang.

Eagles 3, Lions 2

At Seibu Dome, Tohoku Rakuten's Ginji Akaminai singled in a run apiece in the first and third innings off Seibu starter Kazuhisa Makita (12-8), while right-hander Brandon Duckworth (3-1) allowed two runs in 6⅓ innings to earn the win. The Golden Eagles' victory lifted them into fourth place.

The Lions rallied for a pair of runs, but the second infield single of the game by midseason acquisition Kazuya Fujita drove in a crucial insurance run in the seventh for the Eagles.

Buffaloes 3, Hawks 0

At Kyocera Dome, Orix's Lee Dae Ho belted a two-run homer in the first off Nagisa Arakaki (6-5), while three Buffaloes relievers combined with starter Yuji Maeda (2-2) to complete a nine-hit shutout of Fukuoka Softbank as the hosts snapped a 12-game losing streak.

Maeda allowed four hits and two walks over five innings, while former rotation standout Yoshihisa Hirano struck out five batters over the final two innings to record his seventh save. The Hawks hit into three double plays.


Swallows 10, Tigers 4

At Jingu Stadium, Yakult's Yuhei Nakamura's three-run double capped a five-run first inning as every Swallows starter had a hit in a rout of Hanshin.

Converted pitcher Yuhei Takai led the hosts with four hits at the top of the order, while southpaw Katsuki Akagawa (8-8) allowed three runs in six-plus innings while driving in a run with a sixth-inning double. Tomoaki Kanemoto hit his 476th career homer for the Tigers in the ninth.

Carp 4, Giants 0

At Mazda Stadium, Hiroshima's Keisuke Imai (3-8) allowed two hits in seven innings and two relievers completed the two-hit shutout. Brad Eldred belted two home runs and drove in three as the Carp defeated Yomiuri.

Second-year Giants right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura (9-10), making his first start since Sept. 4, allowed four runs in 6⅔ innings. The CL's 2011 rookie of the year gave up 10 hits and a walk, while striking out nine.

BayStars 8, Dragons 2

At Nagoya Dome, Yokohama's Tatsuhiko Kinjo belted a three-run, pinch-hit homer and right-hander Kisho Kagami (3-3) allowed two runs in six innings as the BayStars beat Chunichi to extend their unbeaten streak to four games.

Soma Yamauchi (10-7) started for the Dragons, who have already clinched the second seed in the CL playoffs, and allowed three runs in 6⅓ innings to the last-place BayStars.

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