Tohoku Rakuten Eagles cleanup hitter Randy Ruiz nearly blew a tire on the basepaths in the second inning, but he recovered to flatten the Saitama Seibu Lions.
Ruiz's three-run homer in the eighth inning off Lions ace Hideaki Wakui (10-5) broke a tie and lifted the Eagles to a 7-1 win before 29,104 at Seibu Dome on Saturday.
Ruiz was thrown out at the plate in the second--after getting the stop sign and then a restart signal from third base coach Atsuhiro Motobishi.
"It's Randy. Randy's not very fleet of foot anyway. He runs hard every time, but he's still not very fast," said skipper Marty Brown, who seemed happy to see his team be aggressive on the bases.
"It's hard to get a big guy like that to start and stop. He plays hard, though," Brown said of the 1.85-meter, 112-kilogram Ruiz.
"I almost had a blowout there," said Ruiz, who joined the Eagles on May 25 and admitted he isn't always sure what pitchers he has gone up against before.
"I can't remember who I faced or not, but little by little I'll start learning the league, and they'll learn about me. I know he's a good pitcher--I hear he's like top four in the league. He pitched a hell of a game," Ruiz said after going 2-for-3 with a walk in his first game against last year's Sawamura Award winner.
His fifth blast made a winner out of Rakuten ace Hisashi Iwakuma (6-4), who surrendered an unearned run in the first inning and didn't allow another hit until the seventh.
The righty left having allowed a run on three hits and two walks, while fanning four in seven innings.
"In the first inning he wasn't real sharp," Brown said of the 2008 Sawamura Award winner. "Fortunately, we tied it up and he gave us an opportunity to score the three off Randy's home run."
The Pacific League's last-place Eagles won their fourth straight while sending the front-running Lions to their second straight loss.
The Lions looked like they were going to make it five straight wins at their dome for Wakui by getting on the board in the opening inning.
Yasuyuki Kataoka drew a walk and stole second. He was sacrificed to third and scored when Eagles shortstop Naoto Watanabe, playing in, couldn't cleanly handle a smash off the bat of Takumi Kuriyama. The ball kicked away for an error, allowing Kataoka to score.
Hiroyuki Nakajima followed with a single to make it first and third with one out before Iwakuma escaped the inning.
The Eagles scored to even it in their next chance, but blew an opportunity to take the lead. Ruiz started it off with a single and Norihiro Nakamura followed with a double into the left-field corner.
Ruiz slowed down as he approached third, content to stay there with no outs, but Motonishi saw a bobble in the outfield and decided to wave him around. The relay throw from Nakajima was in plenty of time to nail the chugging Ruiz, but Nakamura advanced to third.
Takeshi Yamasaki followed with a single to center to make it 1-1.
Watanabe led off the eighth with a single to left and was sacrificed to second. One out later, Wakui plunked Daisuke Kusano on the arm and Ruiz came up with two outs.
He lined a slider on the outside corner to center, just clearing the wall. The Eagles are 5-0 in games in which he has homered.
Rakuten added three runs on four hits in the ninth.
Elsewhere in PL action, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters ace Yu Darvish dominated the Orix Buffaloes, holding them scoreless for eight innings and going the distance--fanning 13 along the way--in a 5-2 win at Sapporo Dome.
Shinya Tsuruoka had two hits and two RBIs to back Darvish (9-4), who scattered six hits without a walk to win his fifth straight start.
At Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome, Jose Ortiz singled home the game-winner in the 11th inning as the SoftBank Hawks edged the Chiba Lotte Marines 1-0.
Brian Falkenborg (3-1) tossed a scoreless top of the 11th for the win.
SoftBank's Tsuyoshi Wada and Lotte's Yoshihisa Naruse each tossed nine shutout innings to send it into extra innings.
In Central League action at Nagoya Dome, Daisuke Yamai recorded double digits in strikeouts for the first time in six years, and Naomichi Donoue had two hits and three RBIs as the Chunichi Dragons routed the Yomiuri Giants 7-1.
Yamai (3-2) scattered three hits and a walk, while fanning 10 in 6-1/3 innings.
On Friday night, the Giants set a club record for consecutive games with double-digit hits allowed, and the Dragons extended that string to 10 games by rapping out 11 hits.
At Jingu Stadium, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama had three hits, including his third homer, and two RBIs to lead the Tokyo Yakult Swallows past the Hiroshima Carp 5-2.
Lefty Masanori Ishikawa (3-8) limited Hiroshima to two runs over seven innings for his first win since June 12.
Yakult's Norichika Aoki hit a two-run homer and Lim Chang Yong pitched a perfect ninth for his 16th save.
The Hanshin Tigers and Yokohama BayStars played later.