Yoshinobu Yamamoto, a key member of Japan's World Baseball Classic-winning team, threw six innings of one-run ball as the Orix Buffaloes beat the Lotte Marines 3-2 on Saturday.
Yamamoto (2-2) allowed four hits, walked three and struck out six in a 98-pitch outing at Kyocera Dome Osaka. Yoshihisa Hirano closed out the ninth for his sixth save.
Lotte took a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Seiya Inoue doubled to left-center to score Taiga Hirasawa, who had led off the game with a walk.
Yamamoto, the Pacific League MVP the past two seasons, regrouped to keep the Marines from scoring their second run.
The Buffaloes turned it into a 2-1 lead in the third and added a run in the sixth against Cristopher Mercedes (0-3).
"I went up to the mound determined to pitch well against the league leaders who have momentum," Yamamoto said.
"There are many things I have to reflect on, such as walking batters, but I feel good about bouncing back from that first inning," he said. "My team turned the game around early, so I just tried to preserve the lead."
In other PL action, the Nippon Ham Fighters won 3-1 at their new Es Con Field Hokkaido, handing the SoftBank Hawks their first loss in four games. The Rakuten Eagles routed the Seibu Lions 8-2.
The Central League-leading DeNA BayStars rallied to beat the Chunichi Dragons 7-4 to extend their winning streak to six games.