Baseball: Kondo homer beats Lions as last-place Fighters play spoiler

Kensuke Kondo blasted a tiebreaking 10th-inning homer to lift the last-place Nippon Ham Fighters to a 2-1 Pacific League win over pennant-contending Seibu Lions on Saturday.

Before 27,516 at Saitama Prefecture's Belluna Dome outside Tokyo, Kondo homered with two outs against Seibu's fifth pitcher, Tatsushi Masuda (2-4). Masuda has 29 saves this season but allowed two home runs in his last game.

Kondo, whose eighth-inning RBI double broke a scoreless tie, drove a 1-1 curve from Masuda well back into the right-field stands in the 10th for his seventh home run.

"With two outs, I had something big in mind but didn't think it would be a home run," said Kondo, who had three hits and reached 1,000 in his career.

"When I turned pro, I couldn't imagine it, but now it seems like part of the journey as I go forward."

Fighters right-hander Hiromi Ito threw eight sharp shutout innings, but Takeya Nakamura's RBI single tied it in the ninth against reliever Naoya Ishikawa.

Reliever Kazutomo Iguchi (2-0) got the final out of the ninth with the bases loaded to earn the win. Ryusei Kawano took over with one out and a man on in the 10th and got a game-ending double play to earn his first save.

Seibu starter Wataru Matsumoto matched Ito for seven innings, only for Kondo to double in the game's first run.

Saturday's action began with the first-place SoftBank Hawks, the second-place Lions and the third-place Orix Buffaloes separated by less than half a game.

In the Central League, the second-place DeNA BayStars blanked the Hanshin Tigers 7-0, while the Yomiuri Giants dropped to within two games of the cellar thanks to their 5-2 loss to the last-place Chunichi Dragons.

© Kyodo News