Shuta Ishikawa allowed a run while pitching into the seventh inning, and the SoftBank Hawks rode a big first inning to beat the Seibu Lions 6-1 on Wednesday and increase their Pacific League lead to two games.
Ishikawa (6-9) worked a 1-2-3 first inning at PayPay Dome, and his teammates scored five first-inning runs off rookie Chihiro Sumida (1-10). Alfredo Despaigne's one-out bases-loaded double brought in the game's first two runs, and three straight RBI singles followed.
Sumida recovered from the blow, allowing no more runs in his seven innings on the mound, but his teammates managed just one fourth-inning run against Ishikawa.
The Hawks starter allowed eight hits and struck out seven while walking one. He left with one and two outs in the seventh, and three relievers retired seven of the Lions' last eight batters.
SoftBank's Taisei Makihara went 4-for-4 with a double, two runs, and an RBI.
The idle second-place Orix Buffaloes fell two games back, with the Lions a game further back in third. The Rakuten Eagles, who were also idle, are a half-game behind the Lions in fourth.
In Chiba, Roki Sasaki (9-4) allowed a run in five innings to earn the win as the Lotte Marines beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 8-1. Sasaki, who in April became Japan's youngest perfect-game pitcher, was pulled after throwing just 58 pitches.
The 20-year-old right-hander missed his previous turn in the Marines starting pitching rotation after manager Tadahito Iguchi said he had not recovered sufficiently from his start on Sept. 2.
The Central League's second-place DeNA BayStars lost 3-2 to the last-place Chunichi Dragons, falling six games back of the league-leading Yakult Swallows, whose magic number to clinch their second straight pennant dropped to 10.
Meanwhile, the Hanshin Tigers repeatedly came from behind to beat the Hiroshima Carp 6-5. The third-place Tigers moved 1-1/2 games ahead of the fourth-place Yomiuri Giants and two ahead of the Carp in the fight for the CL's final playoff spot.