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Stubborn Lions fend off Marines’ late broadside

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CHIBA — The Seibu Lions weren’t exactly roaring on Friday night but they did enough to get the job done.

Taketoshi Goto homered and closer Alex Graman shut the door on a furious rally by the Chiba Lotte Marines to escape with an 8-6 win at Chiba Marine Stadium.

“That was a difficult game to win,” Lions outfielder Takumi Kuriyama said. “But everybody feels as good as they can possibly feel after winning a game like this.

“The manager had faith in Graman despite what happened at Softbank and he was an amazing player tonight.”

The Lions led 7-4 when the Marines started the eighth with consecutive singles from Daisuke Hayakawa, Toshiaki Imae and pinch-hitter Tasuku Hashimoto to load the bases against reliever Atsushi Okamoto.

Shunichi Nemoto got the ball rolling from there with a two-run single through the right side of the infield to cut the lead to one. Tsuyoshi Nishioka followed with a sacrifice bunt to put the tying run on third with one out.

Graman then inherited the jam and preserved the lead, striking out Saburo Omura before retiring Kazuya Fukuura to end the inning.

“I was looking forward to it actually,” Graman said of the situation. “I had a pretty awful outing the last time,” he added referring to a blown save against the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks earlier in the week.

“I wanted to get back out there and put up a zero,” he said. “It was a good a chance as any to see how I can bounce back. So I’m happy about the turn of events.”

With the win the Lions stopped their losing streak at three. The PL-leaders have won just four of their last 11 games.

The coming weeks will be crucial for the Lions, who are one game ahead of second-place Hokkaido Nippon Ham, as they will lose G.G. Sato, Hiroyuki Nakajima and pitcher Hideaki Wakui to the Olympic team in August.

“We just gotta stay positive,” Graman said. “Bottom line, no matter how good or bad we’re playing, we’re still in first place. That’s the mentality we have to take.”

Seibu starter Kazuyuki Hoashi earned the win despite allowing four runs on six hits. Hoashi (9-2) danced his way into and out of trouble most of the night, striking out four and walking two over 5 2/3 innings.

Hoashi gave up two quick runs in the first but Seibu responded with a six-run second that was highlighted by Goto’s three-run shot to center off rookie Yuki Karakawa.

Karakawa (5-2) lasted three innings and took the loss after giving up six runs — four earned — on seven hits. Karakawa struck out four and walked one batter.

“My pitching didn’t have any rhythm,” Karakawa said.

The Marines lost for the fourth time in 15 games and fell 6 1/2 games behind the Lions in the PL standings.

Lotte struck first, going up 1-0 on an RBI single by Saburo Omura in the first inning. The Marines extended their lead on a run-scoring double by Omatsu later in the inning.

Seibu designated hitter Yoshihito Ishii halved the lead with an RBI-infield single in the second. Goto’s home run put the Lions ahead and Craig Brazell made the score 6-2 with a two-run double.

Tomoya Satozaki pulled the Marines within two with a deep homer to left in the bottom of the sixth.

Seibu second baseman Yasuyuki Kataoka stole third then scored on pitcher Kodai Matsumoto’s throwing error in the seventh.

Nakajima followed Lotte’s failed rally in the eighth with an RBI single in the ninth to make the score 8-6.

Hawks at Eagles — ppd.

Tigers slay Dragons

NAGOYA, (Kyodo) Tomoaki Kanemoto led off the seventh inning with a game-tying homer and Akihiro Yano singled home the tiebreaking run in the top of the ninth as the Hanshin Tigers edged the Chunichi Dragons 2-1 on Friday.

After Kanemoto’s blast to right-center made it 1-1, Yano singled to left off Hitoki Iwase (2-3) with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth at Nagoya Dome. Jeff Williams (4-3) got the win in relief and Kyuji Fujikawa picked up his 30th save.

Kenshin Kawakami pitched one-run ball, striking out 10, over eight strong innings but Chunichi failed to win its third in a row. Hanshin starter Tsuyoshi Shimoyanagi allowed one unearned run in seven innings for Central League leader Hanshin.

Giants 7, BayStars 6

At Yokohama Stadium, Michihiro Ogasawara and Alex Ramirez both homered and drove in two runs apiece and Yomiuri nearly squandered a six-run lead before edging out Yokohama.

Ogasawara had an RBI single in the third inning and a two-run shot by Ramirez pushed Yomiuri’s lead to 4-0 against lefty Takumi Nasuno (5-11).

Ogasawara’s solo blast followed by an error by left fielder Hiroaki Onishi and Shinnosuke Abe’s run-scoring single made it 7-1 in the top of the fifth.

Toshihisa Nishi and Shuichi Murata each homered in the fifth and sixth, respectively, and Yokohama scored three runs in the eighth to pull within one before Marc Kroon got the final four outs for his 24th save. Seth Greisinger (9-6) allowed three runs in six innings.

Swallows 8, Carp 3

At Jingu Stadium, Mike Schultz allowed the tying run on a wild pitch and Yasushi Iihara followed with a go-ahead triple in a five-run seventh inning as Tokyo Yakult sent Hiroshima to its third straight loss.

After Yakult went ahead for good with a 4-3 lead in the seventh, pinch-hitter Shingo Kawabata hit a bases-clearing double with two outs to put the game out of reach. Keizo Kawashima homered to open the scoring in the first.

Reliever Ryota Igarashi (1-0) picked up his first win in two seasons. Schultz (1-4) took the loss.

Rays eager to restart

St. Petersburg Fla. AP The Tampa Bay Rays reconvened for the second half of the season, confident the seven-game losing streak they took into the All-Star break is not a sign they’re fading.

Instead, manager Joe Maddon reiterated to his players Thursday that the skid is typical of what every team goes through during a long season and there’s no reason they can’t remain in the AL East race.

“I congratulated the whole group on a great first half, and now it’s time to begin another journey in the second half,” Maddon said before a workout at Tropicana Field, where the Rays (55-39) were set to open a weekend series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

“Many times when you’re young, you think that something like this is going to happen on an annual basis, and sometimes it doesn’t. It can. But sometimes it just goes away. I just want us to treat all of these moments with the respect that it deserves.”