SAPPORO (Kyodo) – Kazuya Ojima threw his second full game win in a row and his first career shutout to lead the Lotte Marines, who lead the Pacific League, to a 4-0 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters on Saturday.
The win kept the Marines 2-1 / 2 games ahead of the Orix Buffaloes, who also won on Sunday. Lotte is aiming for the PL’s best regular season record for the first time since 1974. The last Orix pennant came in 1996.
One day after the fighters knocked out the Marines 1-0, Ojima (8: 3) reacted in the Sapporo Dome with a four-hitter. The left-hander went one and hit six while ex-fighter Brandon Laird drove three runs with a pair of RBI singles and a solo home run, his 24th.
“I’m gassed,” said Ojima. “I wanted to have every pitch counted so that the bullpen got some rest. In the end, I tried so hard that I let out a scream every time I threw a fastball.”
Ojima’s only sticking point was finishing sixth when a superb game from shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria ended the inning and robbed Japanese Olympian Kensuke Kondo of an RBI single.
Fighters Lefty Takuya Kato (4-7) pulled back the first 11 thugs he faced, but with two on and two out in the fourth laird broke a goalless game by sinking the first of Lotte’s two runs in the inning.
His homer in the sixth inning made it 3-0. Laird crowned the scoring in eighth with his third goal of the game.
At Kyocera Dome Osaka, Takahiro Okada scored twice homered in a 4-1 win over the Seibu Lions and drove for Orix in three races.
At Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, Hiroaki Shimauchi broke the seventh inning on his 18th home run when the third-placed Rakuten Eagles beat fourth-placed SoftBank Hawks 4-2.
At the Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (5-6) allowed a seven-inning run in an 8-1 win over the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers, who now beat the runner-up Yakult Swallows 1-1 / 2 . lead games, with the Giants one game back.
At Jingu Stadium, Yakult’s Munetaka Murakami became the youngest player in Japanese professional baseball history, scoring 100 homers at the age of 21 and 7 months and turning 35.
Shota Imanaga (5: 4) allowed a run on four goals in his first full game in two seasons at Yokohama Stadium when the DeNA BayStars defeated the Chunichi Dragons 9: 1.