CHIBA — The Chiba Lotte Marines looked relaxed during batting practice under a sunny, cloudless sky on Friday afternoon.
They kicked things up a notch in prime time.
The Marines jumped out to an early lead and Shoitsu Omatsu ignited a rout with a grand slam as Lotte grounded the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks with a 10-1 win at Chiba Marine Stadium.
“It was a perfect hit,” Omatsu said. “When I hit it, I thought it would go out right away.”
The Marines led 3-1 in the sixth when they chased starter Kenji Otonari with three consecutive singles, the last driving in a run, before loading the bases on a throwing error by reliever Yuki Kume.
With Naotaka Takehara due up Chiba Lotte manager Bobby Valentine opted to send Omatsu, the Marines’ top home run hitter, to the plate.
The move paid off.
Omatsu ended a long at-bat by sending his 12th homer of the season deep into the throng of Marines supporters in right field.
“I think it was a shuuto that I hit,” Omatsu said. “It was a difficult pitch but I was able to hit it.
“I wanted to hit at least a sacrifice fly, and if I made contact I thought I was going to get something out of it. I was just trying not to be struck out.”
Lotte starter Yoshihisa Naruse rebounded from a shaky first inning to lead Lotte to the win.
“I can’t be perfectly satisfied with my pitching,” Naruse said. “But the fact that I could hang in there when it was needed was good.”
Naruse gave up a pair of singles to begin the game and was soon facing a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the first.
Naruse (5-4) pitched his way out of trouble and was in control the rest of the way, allowing one run on six hits and striking out five.
“I don’t know how he got out of the first inning to tell you the truth,” Valentine said of Naruse. “It was remarkable to get out of the first inning without any runs. After that he was able to settle down and pitch the way a starting pitcher needs to pitch to give us a chance to win.”
Otonari (7-6) was in trouble from the start after falling behind 2-0 in the first inning.
The left-hander was chased after giving up three straight singles to start the sixth. Things got worse in the dugout as he was charged with two runs following Omatsu’s grand slam.
Otonari took the loss after allowing six runs — four earned — on eight hits over five-plus innings.
The already injury-riddled Hawks were dealt another blow after losing first baseman Hiroki Kokubo in the second inning. He was injured after colliding with Tsuyoshi Nishioka at the bag as the latter was trying to beat the throw from third.
Kokubo left the game clutching his arm and was replaced by Keisuke Kaneko.
Back-to-back RBI doubles by Saburo Omura and Benny Agbayani put the Marines ahead 2-0 in the first inning. Nishioka made it 3-0 with a two-out infield single after being ruled safe at first following his collision with Kokubo.
Naoyuki Omura got the Hawks on the board in the fourth with an RBI double that scored Nobuhiko Matsunaka to cut it to 3-1.
Jose Ortiz singled in a run in the sixth, and Omatsu’s homer broke the game open as the Marines took a commanding 8-1 lead.
Tomoya Satozaki drove in Lotte’s final runs with a two-run homer in the eighth.
Tigers blank ‘Stars
YOKOHAMA, (Kyodo) Akihiro Yano went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs and Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi combined with two relievers on a four-hit shutout, leading Hanshin to a 7-0 rout of the Yokohama BayStars.
Yano connected off rookie right-hander Futoshi Kobayashi (2-5) in the fourth inning and added an RBI single in a five-run ninth at Yokohama.
Shimoyanagi (8-1) two-hit the BayStars through seven innings before Ryo Watanabe and Hirotaka Egusa took care of the rest.
Dragons 4, Giants 2
At Nagoya Dome, Kazuhiro Wada and Ryosuke Hirata drove in two runs apiece, and Kenshin Kawakami struck out 10 in seven shutout innings as Chunichi beat Yomiuri to snap a four-game losing streak.
Wada broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double in a three-run sixth and homered in the eighth. Hirata doubled in two runs in the sixth, chasing Tetsuya Utsumi (5-5).
Carp 5, Swallows 3
At Hiroshima Stadium, Scott Seabol hit a go-ahead,three-run homer in the first as Hiroshima sent Tokyo Yakult to its third straight loss.
Colby Lewis (11-5) picked up his CL-leading 11th win after giving up three runs in six innings, while Katsuhiro Nagakawa earned his 15th save.