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Baseball: Nishikawa, Akaminai lift Eagles past Tigers

Left fielder Haruki Nishikawa of the Pacific League's Rakuten Eagles throws out a runner at the plate to end the eighth inning in a scoreless game in a 1-0 interleague victory over the Central League's Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium, western Japan, on May 26, 2022. (Kyodo)

NISHINOMIYA, Hyogo (Kyodo) -- Haruki Nishikawa threw out a runner at the plate in the eighth and pinch-hitter Ginji Akaminai singled in the only run as the Pacific League-leading Rakuten Eagles beat the Central League's last-place Hanshin Tigers 1-0 in interleague on Thursday.

    With the game scoreless in the eighth at Koshien Stadium, Tigers catcher Kenya Nagasaka singled and tried to score on Koji Chikamoto's two-out single but was gunned down at the plate as left fielder Nishikawa threw out his Japan-best ninth runner of the season.

    Tigers closer Suguru Iwazaki (1-2) allowed Yoshiaki Watanabe's leadoff single. Ginjiro Sumitani singled with two outs to put runners on the corners, and Akaminai, who reached base in all three of his pinch-hitting appearances, singled in the go-ahead run.

    "I went up looking for a pitch I could handle so I could put a good swing on it. I hit it how I imagined I would, and it's been a while since I could say that," said Akaminai.

    "I'm just trying to stay ready to help out the team."

    Eagles closer Yuki Matsui struck out the heart of the Tigers order in the ninth to secure his 12th save, while Sung Chia-hao (2-0) earned the win in relief.

    Joining the PL leaders in the interleague win column on Thursday, the Orix Buffaloes salvaged the final game of their series against the Yomiuri Giants with a 3-2 win, while the Lotte Marines beat the Hiroshima Carp 6-3, and the Nippon Ham Fighters came from two runs down in the ninth to beat the CL-leading Yakult Swallows 9-6 in 10 innings.

    The CL's fourth-place Chunichi Dragons earned their first interleague win, 6-3 over the Seibu Lions, while the fifth-place DeNA BayStars beat the PL's second-place SoftBank Hawks 5-1.

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