With his team down to its last strike, Akira Nakamura doubled in two runs to give the SoftBank Hawks the lead in a 6-4 interleague win Saturday over the Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers.
The late comeback at Hyogo Prefecture's Koshien Stadium near Osaka cost former Hawk Kotaro Otake the win against his old club and moved SoftBank to within one win of the PL lead.
Otake was in line for his seventh win since leaving the Hawks to find more playing time with Hanshin this season. He allowed an unearned run over six innings and left the mound with a 4-1 lead.
The Hawks came from behind on the back of the bat of catcher Takuya Kai, who singled in a run in the fifth, walked and scored on Isami Nomura's pinch-hit homer in the seventh, and drew a one-out walk in the ninth to put the go-ahead runner on board against lefty Suguru Iwazaki (2-1).
With two outs and pinch-runners on first and second, the left-handed hitting Nakamura fouled off a pair of 2-2 pitches from Iwazaki before doubling in the go-ahead run. Nakamura then scored an insurance run.
"I believed my teammates would give me a chance to bat, and I was prepared for that," Nakamura said. "With two outs, my thoughts were on getting good swings."
Until Nakamura's double, Otake had been poised to pick up the win. Taken by Hanshin in December's active player draft after playing sparingly in the last three of his five seasons in Fukuoka, Otake is 6-1 this season and was the CL's pitching MVP for May.
PL teams won four of the six games played on the final Saturday of interleague play.
The PL's Rakuten Eagles beat the interleague-leading Yomiuri Giants 2-1, snapping their six-game win streak, while the Orix Buffaloes held off the Yakult Swallows, their Japan Series opponents the last two years, 8-5.
The PL's Nippon Ham Fighters came from behind to beat the Chunichi Dragons 6-3, with Cuba international and former Dragon Ariel Martinez belting a three-run homer.
The CL's DeNA BayStars moved to within a half-game of the interleague lead with a 10-1 whipping of the PL-leading Lotte Marines, while the Hiroshima Carp dropped the Seibu Lions 6-4.