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Buffaloes blast Marines as Tuffy goes homerless

by Jack Gallagher

OSAKA — Yuji Yoshioka blasted a grand slam and Ken Kadokura (8-4) scattered seven hits over eight innings as the Kintetsu Buffaloes routed the Chiba Lotte Marines 9-2 at the Osaka Dome on Tuesday night.

Central League WonLostTiedPct.GB Yakult 65 46 5 .586 – Yomiuri 66 57 2 .537 5.0 Hiroshima 56 53 6 .514 8.0 Yokohama 54 58 3 .482 11.5 Chunichi 55 61 3 .474 12.5 Hanshin 48 69 1 .410 20.0 Pacific League WonLostTiedPct.GB Daiei 68 56 1 .548 – Kintetsu 68 57 2 .544 0.5 Seibu 69 58 0 .543 0.5 Lotte 59 62 2 .488 7.5 Orix 58 61 4 .487 7.5 Nippon Ham 47 75 3 .385 20.0

Tuffy Rhodes pursuit of Sadaharu Oh’s single-season home run record is still holding at 53 after the slugger went 0-for-3 with a walk and struck out twice.

Rhodes grounded out to second on a 1-0 pitch in his first at-bat in the bottom of the first inning. His next time up came in the third with two outs and two on. He worked the count full before striking out swinging.

Leading off the bottom of the sixth in his third at-bat of the evening, Rhodes walked on five pitches. The only strike came when he swung and missed at a 1-0 pitch.

Rhodes batted again in the seventh with the bases loaded, but went down swinging on a 3-2 pitch from reliever Naoyuki Shimizu. Rhodes just missed a chance at a fifth at-bat when Eiji Mizuguchi flied out to center to make Kintetsu’s last out in the eighth, leaving Rhodes in the on-deck circle. “There weren’t too many strikes thrown to me today,” Rhodes said. “I wasn’t very patient, too. So if I’m not patient, why throw me strikes?”

Rhodes seemed unfazed by his performance this night: “I didn’t see any fastballs today. We’ll see tomorrow. I just can’t worry about it.”

Rhodes chose to concentrate more on the key victory for his team than anything else.

“We got the win, that’s the main thing. We’ve been trying to win two out three every series and we have done it here. Our shortstop and second baseman both hit home runs tonight and they are not home-run hitters, so they picked us up.”

Mizuguchi homered to left in the bottom of the first inning off Lotte starter Hiroyuki Kobayashi to stake the Buffaloes to a 1-0 lead.

The Marines tied the score 1-1 in the second when Yukihiko Sato, Tadaharu Sakai and Kiyotaka Hatsushiba stroked consecutive singles.

Shawn Gilbert put the Buffs back in front 2-1 when he smoked a shot into the left-field seats for a solo homer leading off the bottom of the fifth. Kintetsu broke it open in the eighth, as they sent 11 men to the plate and scored seven runs.

Kadokura struck out seven and walked two on the way to victory.

Kobayashi (1-3) allowed two runs on five hits in 51/3 innings. He struck out five batters and walked four.

Hawks 7, BlueWave 5

Nobuhiko Matsunaka hit a two-run homer to break a 5-5 tie in the top of the ninth inning as Daiei topped Orix at Green Stadium Kobe.

Lions 3, Fighters 1

Daisuke Matsuzaka (15-12) struck out 12 and scattered four hits over 82/3 innings to pace Seibu over Nippon Ham at the Tokyo Dome.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 8, Swallows 1

Yakult lost its sixth straight game as Hanshin starter Greg Hansell struck out nine and gave up six hits over eight inning to end the Tigers’ losing skid at six.

With the loss, Yakult gave away the Central League lead to Yomiuri.

Carp 1, Dragons 0

Hiroki Kuroda (10-7) hurled a five-hit shutout to help Hiroshima win its eighth consecutive game, the longest streak for the club in three years, by blanking Chunichi at the Nagoya Dome.