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Baseball: Buffaloes' Yamamoto strikes out 10, tames Lions

Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes (Kyodo)

OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Yoshinobu Yamamoto cruised through eight innings before giving up a late run, pitching the Orix Buffaloes to a 4-1 Pacific League win over the Seibu Lions on Saturday afternoon.

    With extremely sharp command of his fastball and cutter, the 20-year-old kept hitters from putting the barrel of their bats on the ball, and made the Lions' jobs exponentially more difficult with an occasional curve or splitter they did not see coming.

    The right-hander, a starter this season after starring in late relief last season, struck out 10 while allowing five hits and two walks over 8-1/3 innings at Kyocera Dome. The Lions' first two hits were grounders that just missed gloves, and the third a softly hit fly over the infield.

    Yamamoto's location deserted him in the ninth, when he put runners on the corners with no outs, setting up Hotaka Yamakawa's sacrifice fly. Brandon Dickson, however, struck out both batters he faced to record his 10th save.

    "I was a little anxious at the end, but the veterans had my back and...Dickson bailed me out," Yamamoto (6-4) said. "I was really relaxed at the start and established a great tempo. I was able just to focus on each hitter and the strikeouts took care of themselves."

    The Buffaloes scored four runs off Seibu starter Shinsaburo Tawata (1-6) over 2-2/3 innings. Three straight one-out singles by Masahiro Nishino, Masataka Yoshida and Steven Moya put the Buffaloes up by a run in the first.

    "You're trying to score as many runs as you can, and I saw my opportunity. I was trying to swing at anything close to the plate, and try to fire up the team and bring the runs home," Moya said.

    Another run scored on a Stefen Romero groundout, while rookie Keita Nakagawa singled in another. Leadoff hitter Shuhei Fukuda singled with two outs in the second inning, stole second base and made it 4-0 on a Nishino single.

    Elsewhere, the PL-leading SoftBank Hawks beat the Nippon Ham Fighters for the second-straight day, 6-3, as lefty Ariel Miranda (5-3) struck out six, while allowing a run over seven innings to earn the win.

    At Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, the Lotte Marines and Rakuten Eagles combined to waste five bases-loaded situations before their scoreless game was called a tie after 12 innings.

    In the Central League, the second-place DeNA BayStars beat the league-leading Yomiuri Giants 6-5, moving to within 1-1/2 games of first place on the back of four RBIs from Neftali Soto at Yokohama Stadium.

    At Jingu Stadium, the Chunichi Dragons overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Yakult Swallows 6-4 after Nobumasa Fukuda tied it 3-3 with his second home run in two days.

    At Mazda Stadium, rookie Koji Chikamoto's eighth home run broke a 1-1 tie and Yuki Nishi (5-7) allowed a run in six innings as the Hanshin Tigers beat the Hiroshima Carp 4-1.

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