Left-hander Yusei Kikuchi was nearly untouchable with his heater over eight strong innings as the Seibu Lions defeated the Hanshin Tigers 5-1 in an interleague matchup on Monday.
The Lions roared in a five-run fourth to send Hanshin starter Jason Standridge to an early shower, and Pacific League ERA leader Kikuchi had another impressive outing to help his team snap a three-game losing streak.
Kikuchi (5-1), who has allowed just nine runs in eight starts, gave up one run -- a solo homer to Ryota Arai in the seventh -- and five hits, while striking out six and walking three. Ken Togame escaped a two-on jam with a game-ending double play in the ninth.
"I got hit badly in my season debut so I really wanted to win here tonight. I started with my fastball and then went to my change-up. I was helped out by some great double plays," Kikuchi said. "It started as a pitching duel and my teammates came through with a big inning. They really strung the hits together."
The Lions got the first chance but failed to capitalize in the bottom of the second at Seibu Dome.
Standridge loaded the bases with one out on a pair of singles and a walk, but the right-hander got Ginjiro Sumitani to fly out to right and induced Kyohei Nagae's hard groundout to third to end the threat.
But things took a dreadful turn for Standridge in the fourth, when he walked Sumitani to put runners at first and second with two outs.
Nagae reached on a fielding error by first baseman Takahiro Arai, and Hideto Asamura, Shogo Akiyama and Takumi Kuriyama followed with consecutive RBI singles before the fifth run scored on the right-hander's wild pitch with Jose Ortiz batting.
Standridge (3-4) yielded eight hits and five runs, none earned, in four innings, while walking two and striking out six.
"I wanted to pitch a shutout if possible. I'll just give it another go the next time," Kikuchi said.
On Wednesday, the Tigers travel to Chiba for two games against Lotte, while Seibu takes on Hiroshima in a two-game set at home.
"We can go into our next game on a high," said Seibu manager Hisanobu Watanabe. "Some of his (Kikuchi's) pitches were up in the zone but he was able to regroup along the way. That's his strong point -- he can correct his mistakes during the game."
Fighters 2, Giants 1
At Sapporo Dome, Yang Dai-kang had a game-tying RBI single in the sixth and Keiji Obiki hit a go-ahead solo homer with two outs in the seventh as Nippon Ham beat Central League-leading Yomiuri for the second night in a row.
Former Giant Hiroshi Kisanuki (4-2) threw one-run ball over seven innings and struck out seven. Lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi (3-2) surrendered two runs in eight innings but suffered from a lack of run support.
Hawks 10, Dragons 4
At Yahoo Dome, Softbank took control by piling on 10 runs on 10 hits through the third and the Hawks routed Chunichi for the second night in a row with a 14-hit onslaught.
Vincente Padilla (1-1) allowed a grand slam to Kazuhiro Wada in the fourth, but it was his only miscue on three-hit ball over six innings as he won for the first time in Japan. Daniel Cabrera (4-2) took the loss.
BayStars 4, Buffaloes 1
At Kyocera Dome, Daisuke Miura came within two outs of his first shutout of the season, DeNa capitalized on a double steal in a four-run seventh and the BayStars downed Orix.
Miura (3-3) gave up one run on four hits in a 115-pitch outing. Jorge Sosa got the final two outs for his second save.
Eagles 3, Swallows 1
At Kleenex Stadium, Kenji Tomura won his season debut, issuing no walks and limiting the damage to one run on five hits over eight sharp innings as Rakuten beat Yakult.
Andruw Jones hit a game-tying sacrifice fly in the first and put his team ahead with a one-out solo blast in the fifth. Motohiro Shima added an insurance with an RBI single in the eighth.
Marines 3, Carp 2
At QVC Marine Field, Yuji Nishino struck out 12 over 8-1/3 solid innings, Ikuhiro Kiyota drove two runs on an RBI single and a bases-loaded walk, and Lotte scraped by Hiroshima.
Nishino (5-1) scattered six hits and allowed two runs while walking two. Naoya Masuda posted his 14th save. Hiroshima starter Kenta Maeda (4-2) was tagged with the loss.