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Oshima’s pinch-hit single propels Lions

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CHIBA — Sometimes good things come to those who wait. That was certainly the case for the Seibu Lions on Saturday afternoon at Chiba Marine Stadium.

News photoBayStars’ Takahiro Saeki smacks a ninth-inning RBI triple against the Hanshin Tigers at Koshien Stadium
on Saturday. Yokohama won 6-0.
KYODO PHOTO

Sparked by pinch hitter Hiroyuki Oshima’s game-winning RBI single, the Lions snapped their first losing streak of the season with a 5-2 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Trailing by one in the ninth inning, Seibu scored four runs with two outs to deny the Marines a share of the Pacific League lead.

“Things happen,” Chiba Lotte first baseman Julio Zuleta said. “We play baseball every day and that’s the way things happen in baseball.”

The Marines tried to rally in the home half of the inning. Zuleta and pinch hitters Saburo Omura and Hisao Heiuchi hit consecutive singles to load the bases with one out. Seibu reliever Chikara Onodera shut the door after that, retiring Tasuku Hashimoto and Toshiaki Imae to pick up the save.

“We try to battle to the end,” Zuleta said. “But they got three outs and we lost the game.”

Holding on to a slim 2-1 lead, the Marines brought in reliever Masahide Kobayashi to work the ninth.

A leadoff walk to Kazuhiro Wada and a sacrifice bunt by Takumi Kuriyama put the tying run in scoring position with one out. Kobayashi then hit outfielder G.G. Sato before later blowing the save on Oshima’s two-out, two-run hit.

Trailing 3-2, Kobayashi looked to be out of the inning on a weak hit by Kazuki Fukuchi. However a miscue between the pitcher and Zuleta allowed Fukuchi to reach first and another run to score. Yasuyuki Kataoka followed with an RBI double that put the Lions ahead 5-2.

“Masa hasn’t been working that much,” Lotte manager Bobby Valentine said. “He was probably just a little off, especially with his control those first two hitters.”

Valentine insisted Kobayashi would be called upon in similar situations in the future.

“Masa’s got a couple hundred saves under his belt,” Valentine said. “He’s the kind of guy that’ll want the ball tomorrow. If we have the same opportunity, we’ll give it to him.”

The rally was a welcome sign for Seibu starter Fumiya Nishiguchi. After watching his teammates yield 12 runs and 12 hits a day earlier, it looked as if a solid outing would end in a loss. However despite being victimized by an unearned run in the first inning and Zuleta’s homer in the fourth he earned his third win.

“He’s a good pitcher,” Zuleta said of Nishiguchi, who improved to 4-0.

“I was able to get a high shuuto (reverse slider) and hit it out. But he’s a great pitcher. He has good command. He’s one of the best pitchers in this league.”

In the ninth, it looked as if Marines starter Shunsuke Watanabe would be the one going home with the win. Instead, he allowed one run on five hits and struck out seven in eight innings.

“Today is the minimum of what I aim for,” Watanabe said.

“If I pitch as aggressively as I did today, I’ll be OK.”

Seibu had its chances against Watanabe but was denied nearly every time. The Lions’ lone run against the Lotte starter came on Hiroyuki Nakajima’s RBI single in the fourth.

“He got out of a lot of jams,” Valentine said of Watanabe. “His control was OK but it wasn’t perfect. He made pitches when he had to. He pitched well.”

Looking to continue what they started the day before, the Marines jumped out to a quick lead.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka led off with a weak grounder that was misplayed by Seibu third baseman Takeya Nakamura.

The error came back to haunt the Lions as Nishioka later scored on Zuleta’s one-out sacrifice fly to make the score 1-0.

Yasuyuki Kataoka got the Lions’ first hit off Watanabe in the fourth with a leadoff double. He scored on Nakajima’s bloop single to tie it up.

Lotte regained the lead soon after as Zuleta sent Nishiguchi’s 1-1 shuuto into the left-field seats, giving the Marines a 2-1 advantage.

Hawks rally in 10th

KOBE (Kyodo) Brian Buchanan drew a bases-loaded walk from Orix pitcher Chihiro Kaneko (0-1) in the 10th and another run scored in the same frame on a wild pitch by the right-handed reliever as the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks defeated the Orix Buffaloes 4-2 on Saturday night.

Fighters 6, Eagles 1

At Sapporo Dome, Yu Darvish pitched his second straight complete game, leading Hokkaido Nippon over Tohoku Rakuten.

Darvish (2-0) allowed five hits, struck out nine and walked one in a 114-pitch outing.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

BayStars 6, Tigers 0

At Koshien Stadium, Shuichi Murata drew a base-loaded walk and Takanori Suzuki hit a sac fly in the eighth for Yokohama.

Carp 6, Dragons 1

At Hiroshima Stadium, Eishin Soyogi and Tomonori Maeda both delivered two-run homers to help make a winner out of Kan Otake, who pitched six scoreless innings and allowed five hits.

Swallows 6, Giants 2

At Tokyo Dome, Yasushi Iihara hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs for Yakult.