Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto threw the second no-hitter of his career Saturday as he spearheaded the Pacific League leaders to a 4-0 win over the second-place Lotte Marines.

The no-hitter is the 100th in Japanese pro baseball history. Yamamoto's previous no-hitter came on June 18, 2022, against the Seibu Lions.

The 25-year-old right-hander struck out eight, walked one and hit a batter with a pitch at Chiba's Zozo Marine Stadium.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes pitches against the Lotte Marines during a Pacific League baseball game at Zozo Marine Stadium in Chiba, near Tokyo, on Sept. 9, 2023. (Kyodo)

Yamamoto (14-5) was otherwise flawless as he added to his Nippon Professional Baseball-leading win total.

"I was nervous right up until the last batter, so now I'm relieved," Yamamoto said.

He took a perfect game into the sixth inning before issuing a leadoff walk to Hisanori Yasuda.

With the crowd anticipating the milestone, home fans joined the applause for the visiting ace in the final frame.

"From the time I stepped on the mound in the ninth inning, there was a lot of cheering, so it felt good pitching," Yamamoto said.

Orix Buffaloes pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto (facing camera) shares a hug with catcher Kenya Wakatsuki after pitching a no-hitter against the Lotte Marines in a Pacific League baseball game at Zozo Marine Stadium in Chiba, near Tokyo, on Sept. 9, 2023. (Kyodo)

Yutaro Sugimoto gave the defending Japan Series champions the lead with his three-run homer off Manabu Mima (2-8) in the fourth inning.

With the victory over their closest rivals in the PL pennant race, the Buffaloes saw their magic number shrink to 12.

"This was a head-to-head showdown, so it was good to add even just one win while keeping our losses down," Yamamoto said.

The audience inside the stadium included New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, whose team is among those keeping a close eye on one of the hottest players in Japanese baseball, who could make a move to MLB as early as next year.

A member of the 2023 World Baseball Classic-winning Japan team, Yamamoto led the Pacific League in wins, ERA, strikeouts and winning percentage in 2021 and 2022, winning MVP and the Sawamura Award for the best starting pitcher in both seasons.

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