NPB games of Wednesday, May 22

Central League

BayStars 5, Giants 1

At Tokyo Dome, Neftali Soto, the CL’s 2018 home run champ, opened the scoring with his 13th, a two-run shot in the first inning of Yomiuri rookie Yuki Takahashi. DeNA starter Katsuki Azuma allowed a solo home run to Alex Guerrero in the second. Otherwise the 23-year-old lefty scattered six hits and two walks over 5-1/3 innings thanks to Kazuki Mishima.

The right-hander entered with two on and one out, but got the BayStars’ third double play of the game to end the sixth.

Edwin Escobar, Spencer Patton and closer Yasuaki Yamasaki retired the last nine batters, while Toshiro Miyazaki and Masayuki Kuwahara plated insurance runs with solo homers for the BayStars.

Tigers 3 , Swallows 2

At Koshien Stadium, Yoshio Itoi broke a 1-1, seventh-inning tie with a two-out RBI single and scored an insurance run from first when left fielder Wladimir Balentien failed to cleanly grab Yusuke Oyama‘s single in the gap. Reliever David Huff (1-1) allowed three hits but both runs were unearned.

Former Chicago Cub Kyuji Fujikawa (2-0) allowed two hits but struck out three in a scoreless seventh to earn the win. Pierce Johnson worked a perfect eighth, while Rafael Dolis allowed a run in the ninth before closing out his 10th save.

Ryutaro Umeno homered to open the scoring in the second off Yakult rookie Keiji Takahashi, but Balentien made it 1-1 in the fourth with his 10th homer of the year, off Hanshin lefty Minoru Iwata.

The Swallows were poised to take the lead in the fifth, when Tetsuto Yamada doubled and Yuhei Takai singled with two outs. But rookie center fielder Koji Chikamoto threw the speedy Yamada out at home to end the inning with his NPB-best fifth outfield assists.

Carp 3, Dragons 1

At Mazda Stadium, Daichi Osera (4-2) threw a three-hitter, striking out eight in a 91-pitch effort as Hiroshima reeled off its ninth straight win. Osera struck out eight without a walk. It was Osera’s third complete game victory, with all three coming against Chunichi.

The Carp got on the board on a second-inning error after singles by catcher Tsubasa Aizawa and Osera against Dragons starter Enny Romero (3-3). Aizawa made it 3-0 with a two-run home run in the fifth.

Pacific League

Eagles 5, Fighters 3

At Sapporo Dome, Jabari Blash and Eigoro Mogi each drove in two runs for Rakuten, which pounded Kohei Arihara (5-2) for five runs over six innings. Arihara, the PL’s pitcher of the month for April, allowed nine hits and two walks, while striking out five. Four of the Eagles’ runs were unearned.

The Fighters have now lost four straight games, their longest losing streak of the season.

Buffaloes 5, Marines 4

At Kyocera Dome, Lotte reliever Naoya Masuda (2-2) blew a two-run, ninth-inning lead, walking three, hitting one and giving up two RBI singles, a two-out, two-run pinch hit by the Buffaloes’ Shunta Goto, and a game-winning single by journeyman Yuya Oda.

Lotte’s Ikuhiro Kiyota homered for the second straight night to make it a one-run game in the sixth, and Brandon Laird followed with his 17th home run, a two-run shot that brought Lotte from behind against Orix rookie Tsubasa Sakakibara, who had walked four batters over the first five innings without allowing a run.

Lions 7, Hawks 3

At Okinawa Cellular Stadium, Seibu hammered second-year SoftBank lefty Kotaro Otake (1-2 ) for six runs, four earned, on nine hits and a walk in 4-2/3 innings. The nine hits were a career high for Otake, although last September Seibu tattooed him for eight runs on eight hits.

Lions starter Kona Takahashi (4-4) scattered seven hits and a walk, while striking out eight and giving up two runs to earn the win.

In other news

  • Hanshin Tigers first baseman Jefry Marte was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday after fouling a pitch off his left calf on Tuesday. He did not appear on the field before the game.
  • Yakult Swallows outfielder Norichika Aoki registered his 1,500th hit in NPB in the seventh inning of Wednesday’s game against the Hanshin Tigers. Aoki also had 774 hits over six seasons in MLB. His first career hit came on Oct. 6, 2004, also against Hanshin.
  • The Carp were managed in their win by head coach Shinji Ko, while manager Koichi Ogata was absent following the death of his father.

Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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