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After Hawks victory, Lions roar back with two

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After Hawks victory, Lions roar back with two

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This was not the worst-case scenario, but it's getting to be a tough situation for the Hawks if they want to get that first-round bye in the Climax Series.

Kazuhisa Ishii came back to the active roster with a bang on Wednesday, out-pitching PL wins leader Tsuyoshi Wada to get his first win since having ankle surgery in June. He gave up three runs whilst scattering 10 hits in six and one-third innings.

Wada, on the other hand, continued his season of futility against the Lions, as he gave up four runs on six hits, with four walks and three strikeouts. He dropped his overall record to 14-6, while also dropping his record against the Lions to 1-4 with an 8.04 ERA.

All the damage Seibu needed to do was in the fourth inning. Trailing 1-0 on a Hiroki Kokubo RBI single, Fernandez and Brown started the inning with a walk and a single, respectively. Takayama then laid down a sacrifice bunt to erase the double play opportunity and put both runners in scoring position. It paid off as Hiroshi Hirao singled in both runners for a 2-1 lead.

Wada then made an even greater mess by giving up a single to Sato and walking Hosokawa. After Kataoka fouled out, old friend Takumi Kuriyama once again made monkeys out of the Hawks pitching, singling home two more. Unlike the previous day, this 4-1 lead was insurmountable.

It didn't stop the Hawks from rallying. Utilityman Tomoaki Egawa, who has seen little action this year, doubled with one down and came around to score on Kawasaki's RBI single in the top of the 5th.

Egawa once again provided some offense in the Hawks' Lucky Seven with another double and he took third on one of Ishii's characteristic wild pitches. However, the rest of the offense couldn't keep it going, as Egawa did come in on a sacrifice fly by Honda, but they didn't get anything else.

The 4-3 score was how the game would end, as it was just too much for the Hawks to recover from. Both bullpens were great, as Kanazawa and Settsu worked the last three innings scoreless. All well and good, but the Seibu bullpen was just as impressive, with Atsushi Okamoto, Shuichiro Osada, and Brian Sikorski (S, 30) teaming up to keep the Hawks off the board.

Today, the Hawks turned to Shota Ohba in a key start. Once again, the one-time Golden Rookie struggled with his control and couldn't get away from contact. He gave up five runs on as many hits, with three walks and six strikeouts in four and two-thirds innings, seemingly all he is good for as a starter.

Despite getting help from the bullpen once again (Kanazawa, Morifuku, Fujioka), Lions starter Ryoma Nogami was brilliant over seven innings of one-run ball. Despite striking out only two and walking one, he kept the Hawks from crossing the plate, with the only run the visitors would get in the game came off the bat of Hitoshi Tamura, who hit his 19th home run of the season, expanding on his personal best as a Hawk.

Like the previous day, the Lions offensive attack was in one concentrated burst. Kuriyama drove in his 21st RBI against the Hawks in the 3rd to tie the game at one. Jose Fernandez gave the Lions the lead for good the next inning with a solo home run (5).

The final nails in the SoftBank coffin came in the fifth, when the Lions struck for three more runs. Fernandez hit a two-run single and Brown followed it up with an RBI single of his own for a 5-1 lead. Kanazawa cleaned up Ohba's mess by getting Takayama to ground out after Ohshima reached on a dropped third strike.

The two successive losses drop SoftBank down to three and a half games behind the Lions for first place. Lurking just one and a half games behind them are the Chiba Lotte Marines for second place.

The Hawks head to Sendai to take on the Rakuten Eagles at Kleenex Stadium for a weekend series. Former New York Yankee Darrell Rasner (4-7, 4.36) takes on Hiroki Yamada (3-3, 4.84).
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