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Baseball: Matsuzaka rides Hirata's cycle to 4th straight win

Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Chunichi Dragons throws against the DeNA BayStars in Nagoya, on Aug. 16, 2018 (Kyodo)

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Ryosuke Hirata hit for the cycle, boosting Daisuke Matsuzaka to his fourth straight win as the Chunichi Dragons beat the DeNA BayStars 11-5 on Thursday.

Hirata, batting leadoff for the Central League's last-place Dragons, opened the scoring with a solo homer off BayStars rookie Masaya Kyoyama (5-4) and doubled in two more runs in the second.

Matsuzaka (5-3) who returned to Japan in 2015 on a three-year contract with the Pacific League's SoftBank Hawks, was released last autumn after appearing in just one league game with SoftBank.

The 37-year-old allowed three runs on five hits and three walks over six innings. He struck out six to improve to 4-0 over his last five starts.

"I want to express my gratitude to the hitters for getting me so many runs," said Matsuzaka, who has been troubled by lower back pain and has made just two starts after June 8.

"I hadn't pitched in a while, and there are limits to what I can do, but I want to do what I can to keep us in games."

The BayStars made it a 3-2 game in the third, when Jose Lopez homered with a man on, but Nobumasa Fukuda singled in a run in the bottom of the inning for the Dragons, and Hirata led off the Dragon's four-run fourth with his second double. Hirata, who scored three runs and drove in three, tripled and scored in the fifth and singled with one out in the seventh.

"It might not sound very good, but after my triple, all I did -- even when out in the field -- was think about my hitting," Hirata said.

"I didn't know if the home run was going to go out, but when it did, I thought maybe this is going to be my night. I think a lot of fans don't know this but it was the second leadoff home run of my career."

Kyoyama allowed four runs on six hits and three walks over three innings, while the Dragons tagged Edwin Escobar for five runs in two innings.


Swallows 7, Giants 0

At Jingu Stadium, Yakult's Juri Hara (4-6) struck out 12 without issuing a walk in a four-hitter to beat Yomiuri. The right-hander also singled a run in the Swallows' four-run fourth inning.


Tigers 3, Carp 2

At Kyocera Dome, starter Randy Messenger allowed a run over seven innings and Yusuke Oyama's pinch-hit RBI single broke a 2-2, eighth-inning tie as Hanshin edged Hiroshima.

Former ace Atsushi Nomi retired all three batters he faced in the ninth to earn his first save after Tigers closer Rafael Dolis was ejected for hitting the leadoff hitter in the head.


Pacific League

Eagles 3, Hawks 2

At Yafuoku Dome, Shoma Fujihira (3-3) allowed two runs, one earned, over 7-1/3 innings to outduel Shota Takeda (3-9). The 19-year-old Fujihira allowed six hits and two walks, while striking out six, and Frank Herrmann worked a scoreless ninth to record his 16th save.


Marines 6, Fighters 2

At Sapporo Dome, Lotte gave former teammate Takahiro Fujioka (0-1) a hot reception in his season debut. The Nippon Ham lefty, acquired from the Marines in a July 27 trade, surrendered five runs on eight hits and two walks over 4-1/3 innings. Outfielder Hiromi Oka, who went to the Fighters in that trade, went 3-for-3 with one run and one RBI.


Buffaloes 1, Lions 1, 12 innings

At MetLife Dome, Hotaka Yamakawa's sixth home run in seven games, his Japan-best 34th, brought Seibu from a run down in the eighth. His two-out single in the 12th put the winning run on third base, but Orix closer Hirotoshi Masui held on to preserve the tie.

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