CHIBA – The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles squandered the first advantage Jose Fernandez gave them.
Luckily for Masahiro Tanaka and company, “Mayo” was in a giving mood on Thursday night.
Fernandez hit a go-ahead two-run single in fifth and a tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh to support Tanaka, who tossed a complete game, in the Eagles’ 6-3 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines at QVC Marine Field.
“It was a good game,” Fernandez said. “We had a few losses (recently) so we had to come up big. We had our ace on the mound, so we had to get a win for him.”
The victory was the Eagles’ first in five games against the Marines this season.
Fernandez finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs for Rakuten, which ended a three-game skid. His single in the fifth gave the Eagles their first lead and he put them on top to stay with his hit in the seventh.
“I had to produce,” Fernandez said. “That’s the spot that I wanted to be in and that’s the spot where I needed to produce. I had an opportunity to hit with men in scoring position and I was able to hit and produce.”
Luis Garcia, Ryo Hijirisawa and Akihisa Makita were also credited with RBIs for the Eagles.
Tanaka (2-1) didn’t have his usual dominant performance but had enough to go the distance. The Eagles ace allowed three runs — two earned — on nine hits. Tanaka struck out seven and walked one.
“He needed to have some support,” Fernandez said. “That’s going to happen from time to time. He didn’t have his best stuff. But he’s a competitor and he won today.”
Lotte submarine hurler Shunsuke Watanabe wasn’t particularly sharp in his first start of the season. Watanabe had trouble finding the strike zone, and at one point walked three straight batters to load the bases.
“My rhythm was bad,” Watanabe said. “The team gave me the lead and I tried to do my best.”
Watanabe didn’t factor into the decision after allowing three runs, all in the fifth, on four hits over five innings. He walked four. Tomohisa Otani was charged with the loss after allowing a run in 1 1/3 innings.
Tadahito Iguchi, Saburo Omura, Kazuya Fukuura and Katsuya Kakunaka each finished with a pair of hits for the Marines.
Fukuura opened the scoring with an RBI single against Tanaka in the fourth that put the Marines ahead 1-0.
“Since the bases were loaded, I wanted to connect and drive in the first run by any means,” Fukuura said.
Kakunaka drove in a run later in the inning to make the score 2-0.
“We had a chance (to score), so I was desperate to get a hit,” Kakunaka said.
Hijirisawa got the Eagles on the board with an RBI single in the fifth and Fernandez’s two-run single gave them a 3-2 lead.
Omura opened the sixth with a single and went to third on a hit by Fukuura. Toshiaki Imae then hit into a double play, but it was enough to score Omura and tie the score at 3-3.
Eagles catcher Motohiro Shima began the seventh with a single and advanced to second on Kensuke Uchimura’s sacrifice bunt. He moved to third on a Hijirisawa groundout, and Yosuke Takasu walked to put runners on the corners.
Consecutive singles by Fernandez, Garcia and Makita put the Eagles ahead 6-3.
Buffaloes top Tigers
Lee Dae Ho went 3-for-5 with four RBIs, leading the Orix Buffaloes to an 11-9 win over the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks on Thursday in a 27-hit slugfest.
Hawks right-hander Nagisa Arakaki (2-1) was roughed up for eight runs in 3-2/3 innings.
Fighters 3, Lions 2
At Otsu, Shiga Prefecture’s Ojiyama Stadium, Atsunori Inaba hit a two-run single in the sixth inning off Takayuki Kishi (2-1) as Hokkaido Nippon Ham rallied to beat Seibu.
Inaba raised his baseball-leading RBI total to 20. The Fighters’ Yusuke Uemura (1-0) picked up his first career win with two innings of scoreless relief.
Dragons 4, Giants 1
At Nagoya Dome, Kazuki Yoshimi (3-1) threw his first complete game of the season as Chunichi handed Yomiuri its third loss in four games.
Ryosuke Hirata broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run homer in the second inning off Jumpei Ono (0-1), who relieved injured starter Dicky Gonzalez.
Tigers 4, Swallows 3
At Koshien Stadium, Matt Murton hit a two-run double in the sixth inning as Chunichi came from behind twice to beat Tokyo Yakult.
Murton finished with two hits and three RBIs. Yuya Ando (2-0) allowed three runs in six innings for the win, while Masanori Ishikawa (1-3) lost his third straight start.
Carp 6, BayStars 1
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Yuya Fukui (1-1) pitched seven innings of one-run ball as Hiroshima completed a three-game sweep of Yokohama
Kenta Kurihara, Yuta Shirahama and Tsubasa Aizawa drove in three runs apiece. The BayStars scored only two runs in the three-game series.