Anraku picks up first victory of season as Eagles edge Hawks


Tomohiro Anraku earned his first win of the year as the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles moved 1½ games ahead of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks at the top of the Pacific League standings on Friday, winning 4-3.

Zelous Wheeler hit a three-run homer in the first inning off Hawks lefty Nao Higashihama (7-3) to give his team the lead for good.

Anraku (1-2) allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks over five innings but never surrendered the lead.

“It was a must-win game given it was the first of the series,” Anraku said. “I was behind in counts lots of times but I just believed in (catcher Motohiro) Shima and the players behind me.

“I was feeling the fans’ expectations, but it was a tough start to the season with injuries. I’ve finally got the first win so hopefully I can go on a roll from here.”

Higashihama surrendered two singles before Wheeler went deep with one out. Nobuhiro Matsuda led the second with a triple for SoftBank and scored his team’s first run on a groundout.

Carlos Peguero’s solo shot made it 4-1 in the third off Higashihama, who struck out seven but allowed four runs over 6-2/3 innings on five hits and three walks.

Yuki Yanagita connected on Anraku’s 1-0 fastball for a two-run shot in the fifth before the right-hander got the hook after the inning, but four Eagles relievers each threw a scoreless inning to preserve the lead.

Buffaloes 3, Lions 0

At Tokorozawa’s MetLife Dome, Chris Marrero drove in all three runs with two homers off Seibu lefty Yusei Kikuchi (7-4) as Orix defeated Seibu.

Buffaloes starter Taisuke Yamaoka (3-6) worked eight shutout innings.

Fighters 7, Marines 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Hokkaido Nippon Ham snapped its five-game losing skid after Brandon Laird gave Nippon Ham the lead for good and Takuya Nakajima cleared the bases with a triple in a six-run seventh off Chiba Lotte right-hander Hideaki Wakui (3-6).

CENTRAL LEAGUE

BayStars 3, Giants 1

At Utsunomiya’s Kiyohara Stadium, Jose Lopez broke a tie game with a two-run shot off Yomiuri starter Tomoyuki Sugano (7-4) as Yokohama defeated the Giants.

Sugano surrendered all the runs on the two hits he allowed in the seventh as the BayStars returned to .500.

Shoichi Ino (3-4) earned the win after allowing a run on four hits over seven innings.

Swallows 4, Tigers 3

At Koshien Stadium, Tokyo Yakult rallied past Hanshin, scoring four runs in the fifth inning off Tigers starter Koyo Aoyagi.

Aoyagi (3-3) allowed three hits and a walk, and hit three batters in the decisive inning en route to his team’s eighth straight defeat.

Carp 8, Dragons 3

At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Brad Eldred turned the game around with a three-run homer in the third off Raul Valdez as CL-leading Hiroshima ended Chunichi’s three-game winning streak.

Carp hurler Kris Johnson (3-2) held the Dragons to three runs over seven frames.

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