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Nakata, Abreu double-punch sinks Marines

Kyodo

Masaru Takeda pitched three-run ball over five innings, and Sho Nakata and Michel Abreu each homered to power the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in a 5-3 win over the Chiba Lotte Marines on Monday night.

Nakata went deep with two outs and a runner on first in the opening frame for a 2-0 lead at QVC Marine Field. Takeda (5-4) allowed five hits and two earned runs. He struck out two and walked none and four relievers shut down the Lotte bats the rest of the way.

“I was able to put a solid swing on the pitch I was waiting for,” said Nakata, who belted a high fastball on the second pitch he saw from Lotte lefty starter Takahiro Fujioka (4-5) over the wall in left-center for his 18th home run of the year.

The Fighters scored another run on an RBI grounder in the second and Abreu led off the third with a drive to left-center that matched Nakata with his 18th homer of the season. Earlier, Nakata was named to his third consecutive All-Star Series in fan balloting, placing second for Pacific League outfielders.

Fighters captain Atsunori Inaba extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI double to right-center with one out in the top of the fourth.

“I wanted to drive in one more run for our team, so I’m glad I got the hit,” said Inaba, who hit his 10th double of the season, giving him 420 for his career to place him in a tie with Hall of Famer Isao Harimoto for sixth on the all-time list.

“It is an honor to be able to match such a great player,” Inaba continued.

Fighters closer Hisashi Takeda worked the ninth to post his 10th save, reaching double digits for the fifth straight season. Fujioka was roughed up for five runs in three innings.

“I wasn’t able to do my job as the starter,” Fujioka said. “It really caused a lot of trouble for the team.”