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Marines let Karakawa’s good work go to waste

Kyodo

The Chiba Lotte Marines wasted another quality start from Yuki Karakawa as the Japan Series champions were held to a 12-inning, 2-2 tie by the Yokohama BayStars on Saturday.

Karakawa, who had won his last four starts, limited the Central League’s last-place team to two earned runs over seven innings before passing on the baton to Carlos Rosa after he rang up his pitch count to 114.

Karakawa was in cruise control until the sixth, when he gave up a game-tying, two-run shot to Yokohama captain Shuichi Murata who homered for the second straight day.

The Marines managed to halt their skid at four games but without four starters from Opening Day — cleanup man Kim Kyung Tae, Shoichi Omatsu, Saburo Omura and Takashi Ogino — they failed to punish the worst pitching staff in the CL despite their 11 hits.

As if to highlight Lotte’s afternoon, Japan Series MVP Toshiaki Imae hit into a game-ending double play with a hard-hit shot that came off the mound and straight into second baseman Kazuya Fujita’s glove.

“We should have won today, no buts,” Lotte manager Norifumi Nishimura said after the 3-hour, 43-minute stalemate, his team’s second tie of the season and the BayStars’ first. “We had plenty of chances to put the game away but we didn’t.

“We’ve got to start scoring some runs because our pitchers are going out there and doing their jobs.”

Karakawa wasn’t as sharp as he was a week ago, when he threw a four-hit shutout against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to the delight of the QVC Marine Field crowd.

The fourth-year right-hander actually saw his ERA rise to a still miniscule 1.36, and admits he should have attacked the Yokohama lineup more.

In the sixth with his team up by two thanks to RBI singles in the fourth and fifth by Ikuhiro Kiyota and Kazuya Fukuura, Karakawa allowed Termell Sledge to reach on a soft single to left with two outs.

Murata — whose two-run homer the night before off Lotte ace Yoshihisa Naruse snapped the BayStars’ losing streak at six — made him pay, taking Karakawa deep to opposite field on a 2-0 count for the pair of runs that forced extra innings.

“I was thinking too much,” Karakawa said. “I should have been more aggressive; I let them take the initiative today.”

Hawks 7, Tigers 0

At Yahoo Dome, Toshiya Sugiuchi (2-2) pitched his second straight shutout, striking out eight and holding Hanshin to just four hits.

The Hawks won their third in a row to become the first team in either league to reach 20 victories.

Carp 3, Buffaloes 2

At Kyocera Dome, Hiroshima stopped a three-game slide with Yoshiyuki Ishihara’s go-ahead solo homer off Orix closer Mamoru Kishida.

Lions 13, Dragons 4

At Seibu Dome, Hiroyuki Nakajima and Takeya Nakamura each hit two home runs to beat Chunichi for the second straight day.

Giants 4, Fighters 3

At Sapporo Dome, Yomiuri southpaw Tetsuya Utsumi improved to a CL-best 5-1 after pitching three-run ball over six innings.

Eagles 3, Swallows 2

At Kleenex Stadium, Tohoku Rakuten won back-to-back games for the first time this month with Shoji Ohiro’s walkoff RBI double off Yakult reliever Takehiko Oshimoto.