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Iwase evens save record as Dragons win

Hitoki Iwase used his potent slider to slide alongside Shingo Takatsu’s Japan pro baseball mark of 286 career saves as the Dragons topped the Rakuten Eagles 5-2 at the Kleenex Box on Sunday.

Iwase -- who was a rookie in 1999 when current Rakuten skipper Senichi Hoshino was on the Dragons’ bench -- set down the side in order after Chunichi rallied for four runs in the eighth inning. Kei Nomoto’s two-run single put the Dragons in front and pinch-hitter Masaaki Koike’s two-run triple gave the visitors a three-run lead to set the stage for Iwase.

“I’m still in the process of trying to save games, so this is no time to reflect on the numbers,” said the 36-year-old veteran, who has been iffy at times this season.

“I want to people to able to relax when they watch me pitch,” said the 13th-year lefty, who has put together eight consecutive seasons with at least 10 saves.

Dragons fans had trouble watching Chunichi in its final meeting against Rakuten this season. The Dragons squandered numerous chances against the Pacific League’s fifth-place team.

Maximo Nelson (5-3) only allowed three hits over seven innings, but left trailing 2-1 because a run scored on Masahiro Araki’s throwing error in the seventh.

But the Dragons rallied, with the help of three two-out walks and took the lead on a Nomoto soft liner, which floated just out of the reach of Kazuo Matsui’s glove and into center field.

Koide followed with a dunker that dropped in front of Ryo Hijirisawa and sprung over his head and toward the wall in center for a triple.

Nelson walked one and fanned four, allowing one earned run.


Atsushi Fujimoto’s RBI triple in the seventh broke a scoreless tie, and Ryuji Aikawa knocked him in with a scoring flyball as Yakult won at FYJ Dome, sending SoftBank to only its second loss in interleague.

Rookie Kentaro Kyuko (3-0) worked a scoreless sixth to earn the win after the Swallows had parade out five relievers because starter Shohei Tateyama got the thumb for a dangerous pitch in the fourth inning.


Rookie Shota Ishimine’s first pro homer, a three-run shot in the seventh, broke a 2-2 tie and gave Lotte a win over Hiroshima at The Q.

Yuki Karakawa (5-2) worked seven innings, allowing seven hits and two walks with three Ks for his first interleague win since May 19, 2009. The Carp dropped to the bottom of the interleague standings.


Ginjiro Sumitani had two hits and two RBIs, and Hiroyuki Nakajima had three hits as Seibu trounced Hanshin at home.


Micah Hoffpauir broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run blast, his second in as many days, helping Nippon Ham edge Yokohama at Sapporo Dome.


Hirotoshi Kitagawa socked a two-run homer, his first since last Sept. 11, to give Orix the lead, and Chihiro Kaneko (2-0) used 97 pitches to get through eight innings and win his second straight decision since returning from offseason surgery as the Buffaloes topped Yomiuri.


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