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Despite rough outing, Wada keeps Hawks in first

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Despite rough outing, Wada keeps Hawks in first

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This has been Tsuyoshi Wada's best season in quite a while. After making only 13 starts last year, he has made 18 this year and has looked spectacular at times. Today, he didn't really look spectacular, but he did just enough, and got some help from the bullpen to win.

Despite only giving up two runs on six hits in five innings, the victorious Wada (W, 13-4, 2.92) got the win to separate himself from his teammate Toshiya Sugiuchi for the league lead in wins.

Of course, the Hawks bullpen was out in full force today as well to protect the 4-2 lead. Between Kattoh, Settsu, Falkenborg, and Mahara, they combined for one hit and one walk in four innings of work. Both Kattoh and Settsu struck out two of their three batters, and Mahara picked up his 21st save to become the fastest Japanese pitcher to 150 saves.

His save today breaks the previous record held by Masahide Kobayashi, who reached the milestone in 312 games. Mahara took 267 games to accomplish the feat, but, Marc Kroon holds the overall record at 250 games.

All the offense SoftBank wound need came in the second inning off Rakuten starter Kohei Hasebe. Tamura reached on a single and Matsuda reached on a fielder's choice to put runners on first and second with nobody out.

Hasegawa, who had a clutch RBI in the win yesterday, came through again with a run-scoring single as the Hawks drew first blood. Tanoue then came up and blasted a three-run shot, his sixth of the season, to give the Hawks all the padding they needed at 4-0.

In the fourth inning, Rakuten clawed their way back as Nori Nakamura singled home Teppei to cut into SoftBank's lead at 4-1. The very next inning, Kensuke Uchimura singled his way on with two down, and Yosuke Takasu drove him in with an RBI double.

From there, it was the bullpens that kept the game scoreless. However, it was the one bad inning that did in Hasebe, as he took the loss, dropping his record to 3-2, with a 6.40 ERA. He worked six innings, with four runs given up on eight hits, with two walks and six strikeouts.

The win gives SoftBank their 9th win in a row, something they haven't done since April of 2007 (April 20th to May 1st). SoftBank goes for their third consecutive sweep and 10th overall win in a row tomorrow, as Kenji Ohotnari (2-7, 4.14) gets the nod. The Eagles will attempt to avoid the sweep, giving the ball to Satoshi Nagai (5-7, 3.62).
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