The old adage goes, "it isn't how you start, it's how you finish." That didn't hold true today as the Hawks dominated the first half of the game and settled in late for a 6-1 win over the third-place Chiba Lotte Marines.
One-time Golden Rookie Shota Ohba, finally back in the starting rotation after a two-year absence, has been nothing short of dominant in the starts he has gotten. Putting his 3-0 record on the line was no sweat for him, as he gave seven innings of one-run ball (the run was unearned).
Control (or lack thereof) being his Achilles' heel in previous appearances at ichi-gun , Ohba seems to have rectified the problem, with 15 strikeouts and five walks in three previous starts. His line was not outstanding, but what mattered was that he gave up only four hits, hit a batter, and didn't walk anybody.
Against Hiroki Ueno, who shut out the Hawks in his previous start against them, the home team jumped on him for four runs in the fourth inning to build a 6-0 lead at the time. A pair of RBI doubles from Kawasaki and Honda scored the first two runs, while the last two came on RBI singles from Matsunaka and Matsuda.
His inability to get the final out of the fourth inning was Ueno's undoing. SoftBank hung the loss on him: Ueno could give only three and 2/3 innings, with all six runs charged to him on seven hits to go along with three walks and three strikeouts.
Lotte's only run was inconsequential as Iguchi got an RBI groundout following Ishimine's beaning and a booted ball from Matsuda at third.
SoftBank had built a 2-0 lead in the 3rd thanks to an RBI single off the bat of Tamura in the 2nd and an RBI double from Matsunaka in the 3rd.
Their three-game series completed against the Marines, the Hawks head to Sapporo Dome to take on the Fighters. Lefty Hiroki Yamada (7-5, 3.19) takes on Yu Darvish (14-3, 1.67).