Baseball: Hawks get past Orix ace Yamamato in top-of-table PL clash

Kohei Arihara outpitched Yoshinobu Yamamoto on Friday as the SoftBank Hawks resumed league play with a 7-1 win over the Orix Buffaloes and replaced them at the top of the Pacific League standings.

For the first time since May 28, Japan's 12 teams squared off against league rivals following Wednesday's conclusion of interleague play.

Arihara (2-0) allowed a first-inning home run at Fukuoka's PayPay Dome, Tomoya Mori's 11th, but only two other hits and no walks over eight innings. He struck out six. The right-hander, who began his career with the PL's Nippon Ham Fighters, joined SoftBank this year after two seasons in the United States.

"The win here felt wonderful. I'm grateful for so much support," said Arihara after his first victory in Fukuoka.

"I went to the mound hoping to pitch deep into the game and give the team some momentum."

It took Yamamoto (6-3) two innings to find his groove, but by then the Hawks were in complete control. Yuki Yanagita singled in the tying run in the first, before the Hawks started taking batting practice off Japan's premier pitcher in the second.

With two on and one out in the second, an Akira Nakamura single put SoftBank in front. Taisei Makihara followed with an RBI double and Kensuke Kondo's sacrifice fly made it 4-1. The Hawks scored three more eighth-inning runs off Japan reliever Yuki Udagawa.

In the Central League, the DeNA BayStars moved to within 1-1/2 games of the first-place Hanshin Tigers after beating them 3-1 behind a 10-strikeout complete game from ace Shota Imanaga (5-1).

The Nippon Ham Fighters got past the PL's third-place Lotte Marines 5-3, while the Seibu Lions beat the Rakuten Eagles 5-4.

The third-place Yomiuri Giants downed the Hiroshima Carp 5-3, with interleague MVP Kazuma Okamoto breaking a 2-2 tie with his Japan-leading 18th home run. Yakult Swallows right-hander Cy Sneed (5-3) threw a six-hit shutout in a 4-0 win over the Chunichi Dragons.

© Kyodo News