OSAKA (Kyodo) – Yoshinobu Yamamoto scored 11 over eight innings and won his 11th straight decision when Pacific League runner-up Orix Buffaloes beat the Seibu Lions 4-0 on Saturday.
The win pushed the Buffaloes to 2-1 / 2 games of the league-leading Lotte Marines. Orix has been chasing his first PL pennant since 1996, while Lotte is aiming for first place in the regular season for the first time since 1974.
Yamamoto (14-5), who won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics that summer, allowed five hits while running one in an effort of 119 pitches. Steven Moya’s double from two runs in the fourth inning broke the ice.
“I haven’t been as good as I wanted this season, but I’ve used every opportunity to help the team and even more so when he (Yamamoto) plays because he’s a beast,” said Moya.
Rookie Kotaro Kurebayashi, who replaced the injured top run producer Masataka Yoshida in 3rd place, scored the 4-0 in the sixth game with his sixth home run in front of Seibu right-hander Tatsuya Imai (7: 6).
“He’s not our real No. 3 hitter,” said coach Satoshi Nakajima. “We miss some people and we have had some injuries, but we have to make the most of the people we have.”
At the Sapporo Dome, Drew VerHagen (4-7) allowed a hit and a walk and hit 11 over six innings in the Nippon Ham Fighters’ 1-0 win over Lotte.
At Koshien Stadium, Haruto Takahashi (1-1) admitted two hits and scored 10 over seven innings to win a duel with left-handed and 2020 Sawamura Prize winner Yudai Ono (6-9) than the one in the Central League leading Hanshin Tigers held the Chunichi Dragons 1-0.
Closer Robert Suarez survived a two-on-no-out jam in the ninth inning and earned his 32nd save.
In the Tokyo Dome, the third-placed Yomiuri Giants came from behind to draw the second-placed Yakult 6: 6 after Yasutaka Shiomi from the Swallows of 71.
At the Mazda Stadium, pinch-hitter Yamato Maeda sparked a three-run rally when the DeNA BayStars broke an eighth inning tie, beating the Hiroshima Carp 4-2.