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Buffaloes rally to beat Marines

by Kaz Nagatsuka

Staff Writer

The first half of the game belonged to the Chiba Lotte Marines, but that wasn’t enough to get them out of the bog they’re stuck in right now.

And their opponents, Orix Buffaloes, rose to the occasion at just the right time.

The Buffs’ No. 3 hitter, Yoshio Itoi, broke a 3-3 tie with his RBI single in the eighth inning as Orix edged the Marines 4-3 at QVC Marine Field on Wednesday night.

“I’d had frustrating at-bats until then, and (No. 2 hitter) Tomotaka Sakaguchi set the table before me, so I wanted to take advantage of the chance,” Itoi said of his game-winning hit after the game. “We are dead last in the standings, so we’ve just got to play with full energy every game.”

The Marines, who have not earned a win in July, had the momentum early on, mainly because of another masterful pitching effort by soft-throwing southpaw Takuya Furuya, who had a no-hitter going against the Buffaloes on June 26 before Sakaguchi recorded a triple with two outs in the ninth.

On Wednesday, Furuya limited the Orix offense to just one hit through the first five frames.

But the Buffs eventually managed to do some damage against Furuya, who seemingly lost his focus after he allowed Hikaru Ito to reach third on a single and a fielding error by right fielder Katsuya Kakunaka, in the sixth.

Orix wound up notching three runs on a Ryoichi Adachi sac fly and a Lee Dae Ho RBI double to tie the game.

Furuya pitched 5⅓ innings, allowing four hits and three runs — two earned — for Chiba Lotte.

“The sixth inning when I gave up the runs was everything,” Furuya said. “The pitches that got hit were too high, and I was ahead in the counts, so I feel like I could’ve done better.”

The Buffaloes had all the momentum by this point and later notched the game-winning run.

Adachi led off the eighth with a single and advanced to second on a sac bunt, before Itoi drove him home.

“Once again, we came up short,” Marines skipper Tsutomu Ito said. “We’ve always been short of one more hit. We had Kakunaka’s mistake, but when you’re struggling, it happens.”

Orix starter Brandon Dixon lasted just for four innings after giving up three runs — two earned. But the Buffaloes’ relievers showed solid job as the four hurlers allowed only one hit in the last five innings.

Mamoru Kishida (2-2) received the win for Orix, while Marines reliever Yoshihiro Ito (1-2) took the loss. Buffs closer Yoshihisa Hirano worked in the ninth inning and recorded his 18th save of the season.

Sakaguchi and Ito had a pair of hits for the Buffaloes, who remain the only club in the Pacific League under .500 (35-38-3).

For the Marines, cleanup hitter Toshiaki Imae was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Otani hits first homer

SENDAI
Kyodo

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Shohei Otani went deep for his career first home run in a 4-1 win over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old Otani, who is making his name as a fielder and pitcher in Japanese baseball, hit a two-run drive to right off Eagles starter Satoshi Nagai in the fourth inning at Kleenex Stadium. He was batting seventh and started in right field.

Otani, who is 2-0 with a 4.21 ERA in five starts for the Fighters, connected on Nagai’s 2-0 fastball with one out and a runner on third to give his team a 4-1 lead.

“It felt great,” said Otani. “The heart of the order strung the hits together and made it easier for me to hit. I finally got one!”

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