Drew VerHagen threw a one-hitter over eight innings to earn his sixth win of the season as the Nippon Ham Fighters beat the Rakuten Eagles 2-1 in the Pacific League on Monday.
The 29-year-old right-hander, in his first season in Nippon Professional Baseball after six seasons in the majors with the Detroit Tigers, struck out nine while issuing two walks in a 111-pitch effort at Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi.
"I was just trying to keep it simple, keep the same game plan as I keep every week, focus on things I can control and let (catcher Yushi) Shimizu work behind the plate," VerHagen said. "He called a good game and the defense played well."
"I had all my pitches working, was able to throw a good amount of changeups which was I think key to keeping all the left-handed hitters off balance. Overall my stuff felt great."
VerHagen gave up his only hit in the third, a two-out infield single to Hiroto Kobukata, who stole second and reached third following a throwing error from Shimizu. But VerHagen struck out Takero Okajima swinging in his only jam in the game.
Nippon Ham got on the board in the fourth when Kensuke Kondo slugged a solo home run with one out off Takahiro Shiomi (4-6).
The left-hander saw Kondo open the seventh with a single and Sho Nakata followed up with another single to chase the Rakuten starter. With one out and runners on the corners, Taishi Ota singled in the decisive second run off reliever Kanji Teraoka.
Shiomi allowed two runs on five hits in an 83-pitch effort without a walk over six-plus innings.
The Fighters still had to survive a late scare after Naoki Miyanishi gave up a solo shot to Kazuki Tanaka to open the ninth. A single and a stolen base saw a runner on second with two outs, but the left-hander struck Eigoro Mogi out looking to earn his first save in four years.
At Chiba's Zozo Marine Stadium, Kota Futaki (4-2) threw a three-hitter as the Lotte Marines beat the Orix Buffaloes 5-0 for their third straight win.