Inaba gets to milestone, Fighters and Eagles deadlock
It took just one plate appearance for Atsunori Inaba to pick up his 2,000th hit, but that didn't inspire the Nippon Ham Fighters in a 10-inning 3-3 draw with the Rakuten Eagles on Saturday.
Yuki Saito’s two wild pitches helped three runs score in the fifth inning, and the Fighters could only get even in Inaba’s milestone game at The Kleenex Box.
Inaba put Nippon Ham on top with a first-inning RBI single -- he homered in his last at-bat on Thursday at Tokyo Dome -- and Saito was sailing along until a Ryo Hijirisawa single tied the score and Jose Fernandez knocked in the go-ahead run with hit to left. Saito, who had six wild pitches last season, uncorked his second of the inning with a runner at third to give the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
The Fighters scored twice in the sixth on Kensuke Tanaka’s single and Yoshio Itoi bases loaded walk to even the score with two down. But Sho Nakata struck out to end the inning, and neither team scored before the time limit.
Inaba, 39, is the 39th player to reach the milestone, which puts him in the Golden Players Club [for position players with at least 2,000 hits and pitchers with 200 wins or 250 saves]. Inaba, who grounded into a double play, flied out and bounced out in his subsequent at-bats, reached the milestone in 1,976 games, two fewer than legend Katsuya Nomura.
LIONS 8, BUFFALOES 4
Kazuhisa Ishii (2-0) fired seven strong innings, and Esteban German’s three-run double helped Seibu build a big lead before holding off Orix at Kyocera Dome Osaka for its season-best third straight win.
Ishii scattered four hits, two walks and a hit batter, while fanning four. Hiroyuki Nakajima had two hits as the Lions posted a season high in runs.
HAWKS 3, MARINES 2
Pinch-hitter Nobuhiko Matsunaka’s single in the ninth inning helped SoftBank come back to top Lotte at the Q.
Yuya Hasegawa had an RBI single in the seventh and Nobuhiro Matsuda drove in a run in the eighth to get the Hawks even. Brian Falkenborg rebounded from a blown save on Thursday by working a perfect ninth to close it out.
DRAGONS 3, BAYSTARS 1
Soma Yamauchi (3-1) worked 7.2 innings of one-run ball, and Ryosuke Hirata’s third-inning RBI single was the difference as Chunichi topped Yokohama at Nagoya Dome.
Yamauchi scattered four hits with no walks and four Ks, and Hitoki Iwase worked around two hits in the ninth for ninth save as the Dragons won their ninth straight decision over Yokohama at the dome -- dating back to last season.
SWALLOWS 6, CARP 4
Kazuhiro Hatakeyama had three hits and two RBIs, and Wladimir Balentien ripped a three-run homer off Kam Micholio (1-1) [working in place of closer Dennis Sarfate] in the ninth as Yakult rallied to beat Hiroshima at The Zoom.
Tomonori Maeda had put the Carp up by a run in the eighth, but Micholio couldn’t protect the lead. Tony Barnette faced the minimum in the ninth for his Japan-best 10th save, giving him 14 straight scoreless appearances.
GIANTS 7, TIGERS 2
Toshiya Sugiuchi (3-1) went seven strong innings, and Hisayoshi Chono doubled and hit a solo blast as Yomiuri beat up Hanshin at the Big Egg.
Hayato Sakamoto had three hits for the Giants to raise his CL-best average to .337.