Baseball: Veteran Wada pitches Hawks to big win over Marines

Tsuyoshi Wada threw five solid innings, backed by home runs from Kensuke Kondo and rookie Tomoya Inoue, as the SoftBank Hawks soared to a 10-1 win Monday over the Lotte Marines with potentially big implications for the Pacific League playoff race.

Locked in a three-way battle for the two remaining PL playoff spots, the Hawks and Marines both came in trailing the already-crowned league champion Orix Buffaloes by 17 games, with the Rakuten Eagles a further game back in fourth.

The one-sided result at Zozo Marine Stadium leaves Lotte a game behind the second-place Hawks, while also trailing the Eagles on win percentage following their 9-1 drubbing of the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Wada (7-6) struck out eight and surrendered one run on five hits. The 42-year-old former Chicago Cubs left-hander did not issue a walk.

"I threw with everything I had from the first inning," said Wada, who registered his first win since Aug. 10. "I hope I can pitch this well next time."

Kondo opened the scoring with his solo homer off Lotte starter Kazuya Ojima (8-6) in the second. After the Marines tied it in the fourth, the 20-year-old Inoue put the visitors back in front by leading off a three-run fifth inning with his first professional home run.

"I'm honestly happy that I was able to hit it in such an important moment," said Inoue, who sent Ojima's 1-1 fastball into the stands behind left field. "I went into the at-bat thinking only about my own swing."

The Hawks chased Ojima during a five-run seventh, while four Hawks relievers combined to keep the Marines hitless following Wada's exit.

In the night's other PL game, the Buffaloes extended their win streak to seven by beating the Seibu Lions 4-3 after Tomoya Mori broke a 3-3 deadlock with his solo home run in the eighth.

In the Central League, the third-place DeNa BayStars beat the fourth-place Yomiuri Giants 1-0, opening up a three-game buffer in their battle for the final CL playoff berth. The CL champion Hanshin Tigers fell 2-1 to the last place Chunichi Dragons.

© Kyodo News