NPB games, news of Aug. 30, 2019

Pacific League

Lions 4, Hawks 2

At MetLife Dome, Tomoya Mori homered for the third-straight day, blasting a tie-breaking, two-run opposite-field shot off Kodai Senga (11-7) to hand Seibu the first round of the top-of-the-table PL clash with SoftBank. The win moved the Lions one game back of the Hawks.

His 20th home run is a career high for the Lions catcher, who then uttered what Japanese hitters are supposed to say about home runs — that they are not important to them.

“I am not particularly focused on hitting home runs,” said the league’s leading hitter. “Until now, I’ve been prioritizing hitting for average, to set the table for the hitter behind me.”

Shuta Tonosaki tied it in the fifth when Senga threw a center-cut 153-kph fastball with one out and Takeya Nakamura on third. Nakamura, who had a huge series during the week when the Lions swept the Fighters in three day games while the Hawks were rained out, then made the defensive play of the game in the top of the seventh.

With one out and runners on the corners and the infield in tight, the portly third baseman dove to knock down a grounder headed for left field to save a run. He retrieved the ball and threw a strike to first for the second out, allowing the Lions to escape the pickle with a routine grounder to second.

Lions starter Tatsuya Imai was victimized by Akira Nakamura in the second inning. Nakamura went deep on a high-straight fastball to make it 1-0. Kenta Imamiya doubled in the third and scored when Kenji Akashi singled him home off a changeup Imai that Imai left up high.

Katsunori Hirai worked the eighth, pitching in his Japan-tops 67th game, while Tatsushi Masuda picked up his 23rd save.

Imai allowed two runs over 6-1/3 innings. He walked two, and allowed six hits, while striking out four.

“I wanted to finish the seventh, but at least I can say I satisfied the minimum requirements for a starter tonight,” Imai said.

Senga struck out eight, but walked three and allowed nine hits. He has allowed a PL-high 17 home runs. Yakult Swallows right-hander Yasuhiro Ogawa leads the CL with 21 homers allowed.

“I am responsible for this, since I was the one entrusted with pitching this important game,” said Senga, who has lost his last three starts.

Takumi Kuriyama doubled to open the Lions’ second, and though he was stranded, he tied Hiromichi Ishige’s franchise hit record of 1,806.

Saturday’s game, a 6 pm start, will see Tsuyoshi Wada go for the Hawks and Kona Takahashi for the Lions.

Game highlights are HERE.

Eagles 7, Fighters 2

At Rakuten Seimei Park, Brazilian Luciano Fernando went 2-for-3 with a single and a double and drove in four runs as Rakuten handed Nippon Ham its fifth-straight loss.

Game highlights are HERE.

Buffaloes 10, Marines 4

At Zozo Marine Stadium, Shuhei Kojima and Kenya Wakatsuki each drove in three runs as Orix came from behind to beat Lotte behind five scoreless innings from the Buffaloes’ bullpen.

Game highlights are HERE.

Central League

Giants 4, Tigers 1

At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin left 11 runners on base, and was held scoreless the last eight innings, while Yoshihiro Maru drove in three late runs for Yomiuri.

Game highlights are HERE.

BayStars 6, Carp 4

At Mazda Stadium, pinch-hitter Keita Sano forced across the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, Kazuki Kamizato singled in two more runs and a fourth run scored on a throwing error as DeNA came from behind to beat Hiroshima and win its fifth straight.

For the second-straight day Kenta Ishida came out of the bullpen to provide some clutch relief, and Yasuaki Yamasaki worked the ninth for his 29th save.

Dragons 7, Swallows 1

At Nagoya Dome, Enny Romero (8-9) allowed a run over six innings and Nobumasa Fukuda hit a two-run, first-inning home run, his eighth homer of August, as Chunichi overpowered Yakult.

The Swallows’ Tetsuto Yamada stole his 32nd base of the season and extended his record streak of successful attempts to 37 straight.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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