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Baseball: Early explosion lifts Hawks over PL-leading Lions

Akira Nakamura watches his first-inning two-run double that helped propel the SoftBank Hawks to a 5-3 win over the Pacific League-leading Seibu Lions at Saitama Prefecture's Belluna Dome on Aug. 17, 2022. (Kyodo)

TOKOROZAWA, Saitama (Kyodo) -- Akira Nakamura's two-run first-inning double capped an early outburst and the SoftBank Hawks' bullpen shut the door in a 5-3 win over the Pacific League-leading Seibu Lions on Wednesday.

    The Hawks' win at Saitama Prefecture's Belluna Dome outside Tokyo trimmed the host Lions lead over SoftBank to 1-1/2 games.

    The visitors scored three quick runs in the first, putting good swings on lazy pitches Seibu's Katsunori Hirai (6-6) left up in the strike zone. Taisei Makihara singled in Ukyo Shuto for the opening run and back-to-back doubles by Alfredo Despaigne and Nakamura made it 3-0.

    Hawks starter Colin Rea (5-3) allowed three runs over five innings to earn the win. SoftBank got two insurance runs in the top of the fourth and the bullpen held the Lions in check for the final four innings.

    Veteran Lions lefty Tetsuya Utsumi, a 135-game winner in a career spent mostly with the Central League's Yomiuri Giants, got a warm reception as he pitched a scoreless inning the day after announcing this would be his final season.

    Elsewhere in the PL, the Rakuten Eagles clobbered the Nippon Ham Fighters 8-2.

    The CL-leading Yakult Swallows handed the Hanshin Tigers their eighth-straight loss, 4-2. Neftali Soto hit a tie-breaking two-run home run to power the DeNA BayStars to a 7-3 win over the Giants.

    The Hiroshima Carp walked off 1-0 winners over the Chunichi Dragons when pinch-hitter Ryuhei Matsuyama drove in the winning run in the 11th inning.

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