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Baseball: Ishikawa stops Lions as ailing Hawks complete series sweep

Shuta Ishikawa of the SoftBank Hawks pitches against the Seibu Lions in a Pacific League baseball game on July 3, 2022, at Belluna Dome in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, in eastern Japan. (Kyodo)

TOKOROZAWA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Shuta Ishikawa struck out eight in a one-hit shutout as the SoftBank Hawks overcame a spate of coronavirus-related absences to complete a two-game series sweep of the Seibu Lions with a 3-0 win on Sunday.

    The Pacific League leaders returned to duty on Saturday after postponing their games on Wednesday and Friday. They came from behind in the ninth in Saturday's win at Seibu's Belluna Dome, just outside Tokyo. But on Sunday, Ishikawa (3-3) was in the driver's seat from the get-go.

    "With the team in a tough spot, this start was kind of a makeshift thing, and I'm relieved I could go the distance," said Ishikawa, who had been penciled in to pitch Friday's game.

    The right-hander issued a pair of one-out walks in the second but did not allow another base runner until Tomoya Mori's leadoff single in the seventh.

    Ishikawa walked Mori with two outs in the ninth before putting an exclamation point on the victory by striking out PL home run leader Hotaka Yamakawa for the final out.

    "I had a no-hitter in mind, but I figured they would get a hit at some point. So when that first hit happened, I was already over it in my mind," Ishikawa said.

    "When my pitching hasn't contributed to wins, I've gotten mighty frustrated. I want to pitch my next game so that people won't say, '(his shutout) was just a one-time thing.'"

    Ukyo Shuto hit a first-inning solo homer and singled in the first of two third-inning runs for the visitors.

    The Hawks remained 2-1/2 games ahead of the Rakuten Eagles, 14-1 winners over the Lotte Marines. The fifth-place Orix Buffaloes beat the last-place Nippon Ham Fighters 7-3.

    In the Central League, the second-place Yomiuri Giants came from behind to beat the Hiroshima Carp 7-5, the league-leading Yakult Swallows pummeled the DeNA BayStars 11-4, and the Hanshin Tigers beat the Chunichi Dragons 3-0 with Hanshin's Koji Chikamoto extending his hitting streak to 29 games.

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