Baseball: Ishikawa, Yanagita lead Hawks over Fighters

Shuta Ishikawa threw 5-1/3 solid innings and Yuki Yanagita hit a solo home run as the Pacific League-leading SoftBank Hawks beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 3-1 on Tuesday.

Ishikawa (7-9) held the Fighters to one run and two hits while walking two and striking out four in an 86-pitch outing at Sapporo Dome. The Hawks reduced their magic number to eight to clinch the league title.

Yanagita's homer to right-center, his 21st of the season, pushed SoftBank's lead to 2-0 in the fourth inning.

An RBI single by Taisei Makihara made it 3-0 in the fifth against Fighters starting pitcher Naoyuki Uwasawa (8-8). Koya Fujii picked up his third save.

"I located my fastball well," Ishikawa said. "I got early run support and help from (catcher) Takuya (Kai), so I was able to pitch comfortably. Our ultimate goal is to win the league championship, but we just go one game at a time."

The Hawks managed to win their first game after being swept by the second-place Orix Buffaloes in the three-game series through Monday.

At Zozo Marine Stadium, the Buffaloes beat the Lotte Marines 6-3 to extend their winning streak to four games. The Seibu Lions snapped their losing streak at seven with a 4-1 victory over the Rakuten Eagles at Belluna Dome.

In the Central League, the Yomiuri Giants edged the Yakult Swallows 5-4. Yakult's 22-year-old cleanup hitter Munetaka Murakami, who has led Japanese baseball with 55 home runs this season, went hitless in three at-bats with a hit-by-pitch.

© Kyodo News