TOKOROZAWA, SAITAMA PREF. – Seibu Lions left-hander Yusei Kikuchi won his 11th straight start against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, who fell 10-3 in a crucial loss on Tuesday.
The Eagles defeat left them three games back of the second-place Lions in the race for home-field advantage in the Pacific League Climax Series first stage, a best-of-three series starting on Oct. 14.
Kikuchi (16-6) pitched out of some tough spots to allow three runs (one earned), on six hits in eight innings. He issued five walks, while striking out nine. He improved to 17-4 in his career against the Eagles and hasn’t lost to them since May 12, 2016.
“I was able to put together a great game,” Kikuchi said. “Honestly, it was a brutal experience. But to win a game like this, shows more than any other game this year, how far I’ve come.”
With no score in the second at MetLife Dome, the Eagles bunted and ran themselves out of a second-inning scoring opportunity. After a leadoff single, Hiroaki Shimauchi bunted into a force out, and then was thrown out trying to go to third on a single for the second out.
Eagles right-hander Manabu Mima (11-7) pitched out of a first-inning jam but surrendered a two-out, solo home run to Ginjiro Sumitani in the bottom of the second.
After the visitors took the lead in the third on RBI singles by Kazuya Fujita and Carlos Peguero, Mima gave up a two-out double to Shogo Akiyama. Lions slugger Hotaka Yamakawa followed with his 22nd home run of the season.
The Lions made it 5-2 in the sixth on a Tomoya Mori RBI double and a sacrifice fly by Takumi Kuriyama that closed the book on Mima, who allowed five runs and nine hits over six innings.
After Rakuten manufactured a run in the seventh with the help of an error, Kikuchi came back out for the eighth inning after already having thrown 112 pitches.
Two walks and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases with no outs, but the lefty reared back and struck out the next two batters on just seven pitches. Eagles veteran Motohiro Shima drove Kikuchi’s 137th pitch of the game to the warning track in center field, but Akiyama was there to track it down.
Sumitani and Akiyama each homered in Seibu’s five-run eighth to push the Eagles three games off Seibu’s pace in the final regular-season meeting between the two clubs. Seibu has one game left, while the Eagles have five remaining.
Fighters 10, Buffaloes 5
At Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham hammered rookie right-hander Ryo Yoshida (0-1) in his pro debut for six runs in 2-2/3 innings in a one-sided win over Orix.
Giants 10, Swallows 6
At Tokyo’s Jingu Stadium, Yasuhiro Yamamoto’s ninth-inning grand slam broke a 6-6 tie and lifted Yomiuri past last-place Tokyo Yakult, which lost a franchise-worst 96th game.
The Giants’ Casey McGehee went 2-for-4 with a home run and established a CL record for doubles in a season with his 48th.
BayStars 3, Dragons 1
At Yokohama Stadium, 19-year-old rookie Seiya Hosokawa belted a three-run homer in his first at-bat with Yokohama’s first team, and five pitchers held Chunichi to a run.