CHIBA – Yoshihisa Naruse was determined not to give up the ball this time around.
After being chased from the mound in the ninth inning of his previous start, the Chiba Lotte lefty went the distance in the Marines’ 9-0 victory over the Chunichi Dragons in Saturday’s interleague battle between league leaders at QVC Marine Field.
The loss snapped Chunichi’s five-game winning streak.
Naruse (6-2) allowed three hits and three walks, while striking out six for his first shutout of the year.
“It certainly feels good,” Naruse said. “My last time out, I gave up two runs after one out in the ninth and couldn’t finish the game. To be honest, I didn’t imagine I’d be able to go the distance today.
“Not being able to finish last time left a bad taste in my mouth. But with the kind of run support I got today, you don’t want to rely on help from the bullpen. That’s why I was determined to finish.”
The Marines scored three in the first after Yoshifumi Okada led off the home half with a single. Saburo Omura’s RBI single plated Okada with the ice-breaker, Katsuya Kakunaka doubled home another run, and Omura scored on a sacrifice fly by Toshiaki Imae.
The Dragons threatened to strike back in the second, when two walks helped the visitors load the bases with two outs.
“I was in better form than I was last time,” said Naruse, who won his fifth straight start. “I walked three guys and that is something to consider, but considering I threw a shutout, I’ll give myself full marks today.”
Following his victory over the Yomiuri Giants on May 26, Naruse has beaten the Central League’s top two clubs and the top two teams in the interleague standings. The win pulled the Marines into a tie for second place with Chunichi and Hokkaido Nippon Ham on seven wins and three losses.
“If you don’t beat the Giants and the Dragons, then there is no way you can win the interleague title,” he said. “And today with our opponent leading the CL, that was an additional incentive to win.”
Omura, Kakunaka and Imae each had two RBIs for the Marines, while Tadahito Iguchi was 3-for-3 with a double, a solo homer and a walk. His eighth home run of the season was also his fourth in five games.
Dragons starter Soma Yamauchi (5-3) allowed five runs — four earned — in five innings. He surrendered six hits and issued a walk, while striking out one.
Chunichi cleanup man Kazuhiro Wada, who went 0-for-2 with two walks, said Naruse was relentless.
“He worked precisely, inside and outside,” Wada said. “I began to feel helpless.”
Dragons skipper Morimichi Takagi joked that there was another reason for his batters’ lethargy.
“It’s been a while since we’ve played under sunny skies. It must have been the heat that made us sleepy,” said the 70-year-old manager.
Lions 7, BayStars 4
At Seibu Dome, Seibu cleanup man Takeya Nakamura homered and doubled and drove in four runs as the Lions rallied to defeat Yokohama, with right-hander Fumiya Nishiguchi (3-1) earning his 178th career victory.
Seibu, which sent reliever Enrique Gonzalez to the farm team earlier in the day, asked Randy Williams to close it out. The lefty recorded his first save in Japan with a 1-2-3 ninth.
Carp 4, Golden Eagles 3
At Sendai’s Kleenex Stadium, Kenta Maeda (5-3) threw eight scoreless innings and Hiroshima survived a bullpen blowup to hold off Tohoku Rakuten and win its third straight.
Kam Mickolio, who had saved his first two efforts as the last man out of the Carp bullpen, allowed three runs on four hits in two-thirds of an inning. Entering with two outs and the tying run on first, Takeru Imamura struck out pinch hitter Yusuke Kosai on three pitches to end it.
Swallows 7, Hawks 2
At Fukuoka’s Yahoo Dome, Kazuhiro Hatakeyama’s two-run, bases-loaded single brought Tokyo Yakult from behind as the Swallows broke Fukuoka Softbank with a six-run seventh inning.
Swallows ace Masanori Ishikawa (4-5) went the distance, allowing three hits and three walks in a 120-pitch effort as Yakult won its second straight following a 10-game losing streak.
Buffaloes 7, Giants 2
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Lee Dae Ho went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs and Hayato Terahara (2-3) held Yomiuri to two runs over seven innings.
The Giants, who never got their leadoff runner on base all night, collected both runs on John Bowker’s two-out homer in the second.
Fighters 2, Tigers 1 (10)
At Sapporo Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s Kensuke Tanaka won it in the bottom of the 10th with a one-out, bases-loaded single off Hanshin relief ace Kyuji Fujikawa (1-1). Fighters pinch hitter Micah Hofpauir set the table with a one-out double. Fujikawa followed by walking the next two batters to bring Tanaka to the plate.
Hanshin’s Tomoaki Kanemoto became the ninth player in Japan pro baseball history to play in 2,500 games. Hall of Fame catcher Katsuya Nomura heads the list with 3,017.