SENDAI (Kyodo) – Hiroaki Shimauchi scored two goals, homered and ran in three runs and the Rakuten Eagles held on Thursday with a nerve-wracking 7-6 win over Pacific League leaders Orix Buffaloes.
The win at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi put Rakuten close to the leaders by two games and a full game ahead of third-placed Lotte Marines, who were idle.
Shimauchi scored a single in a first foursome and scored one goal, a single in the second and his 15th.
“We’re still second, but we aim to be first,” said Shimauchi, who reached a career high point in home runs.
The Eagles scored five runs in two innings against rookie Soichiro Yamazaki (0-1). Rakuten’s lead seemed secure in the hands of right-handed Takahiro Norimoto (8-4), but the Buffalo rallied.
Japanese Olympian Masataka Nashida hit his 20th homer in the top of the fourth, putting Orix on the board. Yutaro Sugimoto hit a two-time homer in the sixth, his 21st, and Adam Jones followed him on his fourth homer to crown a sixth, sixth run.
Tomohito Sakai, the Eagles’ third pitcher, gave up two runs in the seventh and only barely survived with the intact lead.
In the eighth inning, Tomohiro Anraku needed a strong defensive play from his midfielder to maintain the Eagles’ lead in the eighth inning.
In the ninth inning, Taiwanese Sung Chia-hao took the hill in place of regular closer Yuki Matsui and worked a 1-2-3 inning against the heart of the Buffaloes to score his first career save.
“He threw some really good throws,” said manager Kazuhisa Ishii of Sung. “We’re in the thick of it and we’re going to have to go through some hairy situations, so that was a good experience for him.”
At the MetLife Dome, rookie Yutaro Watanabe (2-2) worked five innings, and four relievers completed the Seibu Lions’ four goals 3-0 against defending Pacific League champions SoftBank Hawks.
At the Kyocera Dome Osaka, Joe Gunkel (7-1), who returned to the hill for the first time since July 14, allowed two runs over 6-1 / 3 innings to give Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers a 9-3 To win over the DeNA BayStars. The Tigers played two games ahead of the Yomiuri Giants.
In the Tokyo Dome, Seiya Suzuki and Shogo Sakakura each scored twice homered while the Hiroshima carp beat Yomiuri 11-2. Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano (2-5), pitching for the first time since carp on July 1, allowed five runs in six innings.