Otani homer helps lift Fighters over Eagles

Shohei Otani blasted a three-run, tie-breaking home run and the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters pulled away to a 9-3 victory over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Pacific League on Wednesday afternoon.

Before 12,294 at Hokkaido’s Obihiro-no-mori Stadium, the Fighters’ ace pitcher and designated hitter broke a 3-3, fifth-inning tie with his career-high 11th home run. Otani, who has been unable to pitch since breaking a blister on the middle finger of his right hand on July 10, struck out twice, walked and scored twice as the Fighters won their third straight game.

“I was able to perform well, and on top of that the team won,” said Otani, who in last weekend’s two All-Star games won one MVP Award and a home run derby. “I want to do my best so I can hit more and more.”

Jake Brigham (0-3) allowed seven runs, six earned, in five innings for the Eagles, while the win went to Keisuke Tanimoto (2-2), the Fighters’ third pitcher of the game.

Otani previously hit 10 home runs in 2014, when he went 11-4 on the mound. He entered Wednesday’s game batting .328 with an 8-4 record on the mound, a PL-high 140 strikeouts and a 2.03 ERA.

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