Baseball: Kitayama, Fighters bullpen flirt with combined no-hitter

Newly minted starter Koki Kitayama and four relievers came within one out of a combined no-hitter Thursday as the Nippon Ham Fighters blanked the Seibu Lions 1-0 in the Pacific League.

Chusei Mannami put the Fighters ahead with his fifth home run of the year in the top of the seventh at Belluna Dome.

After coming into the season as a reliever, Kitayama (1-1) made a strong impression in his first start. The 24-year-old right-hander struck out five over six innings and walked a pair in an efficient 75-pitch outing.

The Lions remained hitless until Aito Takeda's two-out single in the ninth against Nippon Ham closer Seigi Tanaka, who allowed two runners on before striking out Shuta Tonosaki for the save.

Dominican right-hander Bryan Rodriguez threw a 1-2-3 seventh before Taisho Tamai and Naoki Miyanishi carried the no-hitter through the eighth.

The Rakuten Eagles flew past the Lotte Marines 6-0, rallying for five runs in the fifth inning at Rakuten Mobile Park Miyagi.

© Kyodo News