OSAKA (Kyodo) – After fighting through much of the second half of the season, left rookie Hiroya Miyagi allowed a seven-inning run to claim victory when the Orix Buffaloes beat the SoftBank Hawks 2-1 and the first place in the Pacific recaptured league on Friday.
Chasing their first league championship since 1996, the Buffaloes moved into the first division for the first time since September 7, a half-game ahead of the Lotte Marines, whose game against the third-placed Rakuten Eagles was rainy.
After an incredible first half this year, Miyagi (12-3) struggled to hit the rackets in the second half. However, he went up in flames against four-time Japan Series defending champions Hawks, hitting six without a step while allowing seven hits.
“I wanted to give us a chance to win so I threw very hard from the start and I think that helped me,” said Miyagi.
The Hawks took the lead at the Kyocera Dome Osaka in the fifth inning when Taisei Makihara was in the single, stole second, took third place on a misguided throw from catcher Torai Fushimi, and hit with a Nobuhiro Matsuda single.
Fushimi made amends in game six when he took the lead with a doubles and scored in a Yuma Mune singles. Orix took the lead in seventh place on a wild pitch from Reliever Sho Iwasaki (2-5), which allowed two singles to open the inning.
Tyler Higgins took a goalless eighth place for the Buffaloes, and former big league player Yoshihisa Hirano finished second in the ninth inning to score his 24th save.
At the Sapporo Dome, Hotaka Yamakawa drove his 19th and 20th homerun, drove in four runs and led the Seibu Lions to a 4-2 win from behind.
At Mazda Stadium, Jose Osuna scored three hits and drove in three runs as the Yakult Swallows won a 5-4 seesaw game against the Hiroshima Carp to maintain their lead in the Central League in one game.
At the Koshien Stadium, Yusuke Oyama scored a home run with two runs and Jefry Marte made a three-point hit in the Hanshin Tigers’ 5-2 win over the Chunichi Dragons.
In the Tokyo Dome, Yoshiyuki Kamei made two singles, scored one run and finally put the third-placed Yomiuri Giants in the lead with a sacrificial fly in their 3-2 win against DeNA BayStars.