Despaigne homer lifts Hawks past Fighters


Alfredo Despaigne hit a tie-breaking, eighth-inning home run, the fourth of the game for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in a 6-5 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Wednesday night.

Before 34,708 at Yafuoku Dome, Despaigne got a high 155-kph fastball from closer Chris Martin and blasted it out to left for his 19th home run, tying teammate Yuki Yanagita for the Pacific League lead.

“Because we were tied, I was thinking, ‘home run,’ ” Despaigne said. “I wanted to win and send everyone home with smiles on their faces.”

Dennis Sarfate worked around a leadoff single to record his 21st save. Sho Iwasaki (4-2) earned the win in relief. The right-hander blew a one-run lead in the top of the eighth, when Sho Nakata’s two-out RBI double brought the Fighters from behind for the third time.

After the Hawks scored twice in the second on solo homers by Keizo Kawashima and Takuya Kai, Nakata tied it in the top of the third with a two-run single off Shota Takeda. The right-hander, who had been out since April 12 with shoulder inflammation, then surrendered the lead on Kensuke Tanaka’s RBI infield single.

Fighters lefty Takayuki Kato, however, allowed single runs in the third and fourth as Nippon Ham fell behind again.

In the fifth, Takeda gave away the lead again on a two-out, pinch-hit RBI single by Shohei Otani, who had returned to duty the previous night for the first time in nearly two months. Takeda was yanked after a walk loaded the bases, but lefty Shinya Kayama saved the day with a strikeout to end the inning, and Kenta Imamiya homered off Kato in the fifth to put SoftBank ahead once again.

Eagles 3, Buffaloes 2

At Hirosaki Stadium, Hiroaki Shimauchi hit his eighth homer, a two-run, tie-breaking shot in the third off Orix ace Chihiro Kaneko (6-5) and league-leading Tohoku Rakuten held on for the win behind six strong innings from Wataru Karashima (6-3).

Lions at Marines — late

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Dragons 1, Tigers 0

At Nagoya Dome, Yohei Oshima’s two-out, sixth-inning RBI double decided a tight pitchers’ duel in which both teams together had just five hits. Jordan Norberto (5-2) went 6⅔ innings for Chunichi, while three relievers completed the shutout of Hanshin, which lost six straight for the first time this year.

Swallows 4, Giants 2

At Fukushima Stadium, Tokyo Yakult made the most of its one good opportunity to score three runs in the fourth off Yomiuri’s Kan Otake (4-4), who surrendered back-to-back, two-out RBI singles against the tail end of the Swallows’ order.

BayStars 11, Carp 8

At Yokohama Stadium, Carp starter Akitake Okada allowed four runs in three innings, and his relief, Allen Kuri (5-5) gave up five more in two innings as Yokohama easily won a slugfest against the league-leading Carp.

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