Takanashi, Otani propel Fighters past Lions


Hirotoshi Takanashi pitched into the eighth inning and Shohei Otani homered twice as the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters punished the Seibu Lions 9-2 on Friday night.

Through seven innings, Takanashi (5-7) was in stellar form, allowing just two hits while striking out nine, putting a dent in the second-place Lions’ hope for a miracle come-from-behind Pacific League pennant.

In the end, however, Takanashi faltered, running his pitch count up and spoiling his chance for a complete-game shutout in the eighth, when he exited after 129 pitches.

“In a game like this, you really have to be able to complete the game,” Takanashi said. “I regret having to leave the game early.”

“I always go to the mound intent on finishing the game. Tonight was unfortunate, but in the end we won and that’s the main thing.”

The right-hander went to the mound in the bottom of the first at MetLife Dome with a 2-0 lead thanks to Otani’s sixth home run.

Go Matsumoto got the Fighters started in the first against Ryoma Nogami (9-9) with a one-out single. Otani followed and drove a high 3-2 pitch out to center field.

Nogami struck out Otani to end the third, but didn’t survive the fourth.

Matsumoto’s two-run double, Nippon Ham’s fifth hit of the inning, chased Nogami. Lefty Frank Garces came on to face Otani but missed up and over the plate with a 1-0 fastball.

Otani slammed it high off the foul pole in right field for his second two-run blast of the night. He struck out in the seventh and was hit in the left foot with a pitch in the ninth.

Takanashi surrendered two runs, both in the eighth. Overall, he allowed five hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts in 7-2/3 innings.

Although the Fighters are on the verge of being eliminated from postseason contention, the Lions started the day 12-1/2 games back of the league-leading Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks with fewer than 10 games left to play.

Buffaloes 4, Eagles 2

At Sendai’s Kobo Park, Masahiro Nishino delivered a tiebreaking triple off Tohoku Rakuten’s Takayuki Kishi (8-8) with one out in the seventh inning, and two-out RBI singles by Masataka Yoshida and Stefen Romero followed with two out RBI singles.

Hawks 6, Marines 4

At Chiba’s Zozo Marine Stadium, Chiba Lotte starter Tomohito Sakai (3-1) allowed six runs in six innings in a loss to Fukuoka SoftBank.

Hawks closer Dennis Sarfate struck out Wily Mo Pena to end the game with a man on, saving his 48th game and extending NPB single-season record.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Giants 4, Swallows 1

At Tokyo Dome, Tomoyuki Sugano (15-5) allowed six hits but no walks while striking out eight, and Casey McGehee opened the scoring in the fifth inning by driving in two runs and extended his single-season franchise record for doubles with his 43rd two-bagger in a win over Tokyo Yakult.

Tigers 8, BayStars 3

At Koshien Stadium, Seishiro Sakamoto went 3-for-3 with a homer, two runs and four RBIs as second-place Hanshin rallied to move 4-1/2 games ahead of third-place Yokohama.

Trailing 2-0 in the second, the Tigers got on the board with Takashi Toritani’s 2,000th career hit, an RBI double, becoming the 50th player in NPB history to reach the milestone.

“I’m glad I could get my 2,000th hit in front of a big crowd,” Toritani said. “These figures came to be because I played every day, and if I got a hit, it felt like I would get another.

“I want to present the 2,000-hit ball to my parents and family who have supported me.”

Carp 3, Dragons 0

At Nagoya Dome, Kazuki Yabuta (14-3) threw a six-hit shutout and Ryosuke Kikuchi broke the ice with his 14th home run, a fifth-inning solo shot as Hiroshima lowered its magic number to seven with a win over Chunichi.

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