Baseball: Eagles blow out Buffaloes behind Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka shook off his struggles for one night as he cruised through eight innings as the Rakuten Eagles paddled the Pacific League-leading Orix Buffaloes 9-1 Thursday.

Tanaka (6-6) went to the mound at Kyocera Dome Osaka with a two-run lead, and after pitching out of a first-inning jam, never looked back.

The former New York Yankee allowed five hits and two walks while striking out three as he located well and changed speeds to keep the Buffaloes from making consistent solid contact.

It was a refreshing result for Tanaka, who was coming off a start in which he allowed seven runs over 4-2/3 -- his second-worst outing in July. But the 34-year-old was not ready to declare he has turned a corner.

"Today may have been different," Tanaka said. "But things that have been happening up until now can still show up. I came in thoroughly prepared mentally and focused on one pitch at a time."

The Eagles, who snapped Orix's four-game winning streak, scored four runs over three innings against Jacob Waguespack (3-5), who was summoned from the minors after the scheduled starter fell ill.

The Buffaloes put the tying runs on base with no outs in the first but had to settle for one run, scoring on a Leandro Cedeno sacrifice fly.

Elsewhere in the PL, the second-place Lotte Marines beat the last-place Nippon Ham Fighters 7-5.

In the Central League, Japan home run leader Kazuma Okamoto homered twice for the second straight game as the Yomiuri Giants edged the Yakult Swallows 2-1.

The league-leading Hanshin Tigers beat the last-place Chunichi Dragons 5-2, while the Hiroshima Carp and DeNA BayStars finished in a scoreless 12-inning tie.

© Kyodo News