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Baseball: Karashima pitches Eagles to victory over Fighters

Wataru Karashima pitches for the Rakuten Eagles in their 3-1 win over the Nippon Ham Fighters in Sendai on Apr. 2, 2019. (Kyodo)

SENDAI (Kyodo) -- Wataru Karashima pitched seven scoreless innings as the Rakuten Eagles beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 3-1 on Tuesday for their third straight win in the Pacific League.

Karashima (1-0) limited the Fighters lineup to three hits and two walks, while striking out eight in the Eagles' first home game of the season at Rakuten Seimei Park. The game was delayed for about 20 minutes in the first inning due to heavy snow.

He opened with a 1-2-3 first but pitched into a jam in the following inning, when he put two batters on base with no outs. But the 28-year-old got the next three hitters to fly out.

"It was very cold but I managed to remain concentrated," Karashima said. "I was able to focus on one batter at a time. I think we are off to a good start so I want to keep winning."

Hiroaki Shimauchi drove in the opening run and Hideto Asamura, who joined the Eagles during the offseason, blasted an eighth-inning, two-run home run in front of a crowd of 27,096.

Eigoro Mogi led off the fourth with a double against righty Johnny Barbato and scored on Shimauchi's RBI single to left field. After flying out in his next at-bat in the sixth, Mogi hit a triple in the eighth inning and came home on Asamura's first homer of the season.

A former Seibu Lions captain, Asamura joined the Eagles as a domestic free agent. He led the PL with RBIs last season and helped the Lions win the league pennant.

"I'm really happy. I thought a sacrifice would be enough (for Mogi to score) so I didn't feel tense," Asamura said.

Rakuten reliever Yuki Matsui surrendered a run in the ninth after loading the bases with one out. But he managed to fan the final batter to limit the damage.

Pitching second for the Fighters, Barbato (0-1) allowed a run on two hits, a walk and a hit batsman over three innings.

The Eagles opened their season last month without ace pitcher Takahiro Norimoto, who underwent surgery to clean his right pitching elbow. The team said in March that the 28-year-old will require about four months of recovery.

In other Pacific League games, Tomoya Mori drove in four runs in the Lions' 7-4 win over the Lotte Marines at MetLife Dome. In Osaka, Yuki Yanagita hit a three-run homer and Kenta Imamiya went 3-for-4 with two homers for the SoftBank Hawks, who crushed the Orix Buffaloes 11-4.

In the Central League, Yoshihiro Maru drove in three runs on two hits, including his first homer since joining the Yomiuri Giants. The Giants beat the Hanshin Tigers 9-3 at Tokyo Dome.

The Yakult Swallows came from behind to beat the DeNA BayStars 5-2 at Jingu Stadium. Reliever Daisuke Sobue (1-0) picked up his first win of the season in the Chunichi Dragons' 7-4 victory over the Hiroshima Carp at Nagoya Dome.

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