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Dragons dominate in Game 2

by Jason Coskrey

NAGOYA — There will be no sweep in the 2010 Japan Series.

The Chunichi Dragons made sure of that and then some.

The Dragons scored 10 runs over the first three innings, got a decent outing from starter Chen Wei-yin, and cruised to an easy 12-1 victory over the Chiba Lotte Marines in Game 2 of the Japan Series on Sunday.

The Dragons’ offense had Nagoya Dome rocking as they bounced back emphatically from a poor performance in a Game 1 loss.

“This was not like a regular-season game,” Chunichi manager Hiromitsu Ochiai said. “The atmosphere is not the same. It’s always more exciting in the postseason, and nice when things are going our way.”

Everything was going their way from the very start, as the Dragons opened the game with a four-run first inning. From there the rout was on and Chunichi scored three runs in each of the next two frames and two more in the sixth.

“The mood of today’s game was a lot different than yesterday,” left fielder Kazuhiro Wada said. “Getting the four runs in the first inning was huge.

“In this kind of series, taking a loss puts you under a lot of pressure and it’s hard on you. By winning today, now we have some breathing room. It would’ve been so bad had we lost today’s game.”

Each member of the Dragons’ starting nine reached base safely at least once, including Chen, who aided his own cause with a standup double in the third.

Wada continued to have a solid series, going 3-for-4 and driving in three runs.

“I hit change-ups in my first two at-bats,” Wada said, referring to his RBI single in the first inning and two-run double in the second. “The first one gave us a chance to take the lead and the second helped us extend the lead. I’m pleased I could drive in runners on both occasions.”

Dragons slugger Tony Blanco struck out in his first two at-bats, then proceeded to drive in four runs in the next two. Blanco hit a two-run single in the third, ending an 0-for-6 slump in the series, and added a two-run homer in the sixth.

Rookie Yohei Oshima had two RBIs, while Hirokazu Ibata, Kei Nomoto and Motonobu Tanishige ended the game with one apiece.

Masahiro Araki had a productive night at the top of the Chunichi order, finishing with three hits.

That was more than enough for Chen, who allowed one run on four hits and struck out five over six innings to earn the win.

“Wada-san and the others got me a lot of runs and that made it easier,” Chen said. “I am grateful for that.”

Lotte pitcher Bill Murphy had a nightmarish start for the Marines and was out of the game after 1 1/3 innings. Murphy gave up seven runs — four earned — on six hits. He walked three batters, including issuing a free pass to Tanishige with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first.

Murphy has endured a rocky postseason and is 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in three starts.

Lotte’s Toshiaki Imae drove in the Marines’ only run with an RBI single in the fourth.

For Lotte, it was the franchise’s first loss in its last nine Japan Series games. In 1974 the team, then known as the Orions, defeated the Dragons in the final three games of that year’s Japan Series. The Marines swept the Hanshin Tigers to win the 2005 title.

After two games, the series now shifts to Chiba Marine Stadium for Games 3, 4 and 5.

“We have three difficult games in Chiba but hope to win at least two and then bring the series back here to Nagoya and win it in front of our home fans,” Wada said.

As the third-place team in the Pacific League standings, the Marines were forced to play all their Climax Series games on the road. Meaning Tuesday’s game will be their first at home since Oct. 1.

Chunichi will be looking to spoil their homecoming by taking control of the series.

“The next game will be big because we are tied at one game apiece,” Ochiai said. “Whoever wins Game 3 will have the lead and the momentum.”