CHIBA – New acquisition Craig Brazell hit a pair of impressive home runs and journeyman lefty Takuya Furuya had a solid outing as the Chiba Lotte Marines beat the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 7-3 on a rainy Wednesday night.
Furuya (2-1), who came within one strike of a no-hitter in his season debut on June 26, baffled the Hawks for the first six innings. He left having allowed three runs on five hits and a hit batsman in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out four in the final game before the All-Star break.
With the Marines leading 5-1 in the third, Brazell hit the first pitch he saw from right-hander Sho Iwasaki (1-2) into the wind to the opposite field, depositing it among the Hawks’ fans in left field. In the fifth, he hit another first pitch, rocketing it off the facade that towers 30 meters over QVC Marine Field’s right-field stands.
“I feel I hit the first one a lot better, because it was to the opposite field and I stayed through the ball better,” said Brazell, who hit his first homer for Lotte the night before.
Although he said he doesn’t think about hitting home runs, that thought was on his mind the next time up when he struck out flailing.
“I’m a player. I’d like to hit three,” he said. “The swings spoke for themselves, what I was trying to do there.”
The Marines exploited a Softbank slipup to open the scoring in the first against Iwasaki. With Shunichi Nemoto on second after a leadoff single and a sacrifice, second baseman Atsushi Fukumoto failed to grab a chopper and was given an error as Nemoto scored and the batter wound up at second. Toshiaki Imai’s one-out single made it 2-0. With two outs and runners on first and second, Shoitsu Omatsu singled in Lotte’s third run.
Things stayed ugly in the second. A leadoff single by Yoshifumi Okada and a sacrifice put speed at second with no outs. Another Marine who can fly, Takashi Ogino, grounded a single to left fielder Tomoaki Egawa, who threw home in vain. Catcher Hidenori Tanoue tried to cut down Ogino advancing to second, but the throw sailed, got past the Hawks’ outfielders and Ogino scored easily.
The Hawks’ Bryan LaHair doubled and scored on Akira Nakamura’s sacrifice fly in the top of the third, but Brazell cancelled that score out with a solo home run in the bottom of the inning.
Softbank finally solved Furuya in a two-run seventh. The lefty hit the first batter he faced, surrendered a double to Yuya Hasegawa and a sacrifice fly to Egawa. Tanoue singled up the middle to make it a 7-3 game, and Furuya came out after recording another out.
“He pitched very well considering the trying circumstances,” Lotte manager Tsutomu Ito said.
Omatsu got a rare start for the Marines, because veteran infielder Tadahito Iguchi was out of the lineup with a contusion on his right calf.
Lions 4, Fighters 3
At Hakoate’s Ocean Stadium, Ryan Spillborghs’ two-out, sixth-inning pinch-hit single drove in two runs and brought Seibu from behind in a win over host Hokkaido Nippon Ham.
The Fighters intentionally walked the potential go-ahead run and it cost them when a fielding mishap loaded the bases for Spillborghs, who broke his bat singling off lefty Yuya Ishii (3-4) that brought Seibu from a run down.
Buffaloes 3, Eagles 0
At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Orix right-hander Chihiro Kaneko (7-5) shut out league-leading Tohoku Rakuten on three hits, while striking out 11 and hitting a batter.
Following a leadoff double by Tomotaka Sakaguchi, Shinji Takahashi singled in the first run off Takashi Kawai (3-1). Aarom Baldiris singled in another run, and Lee Dae-ho completed the scoring in the third with his 16th home run, a solo shot.
Dragons 4, Carp 2
At Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, Ryosuke Hirata’s grand slam overturned a two-run deficit in the eighth inning as Chunichi came from behind in the late innings for the second straight night to beat Hiroshima.
Yuichi Hisamoto (2-3) allowed a hit and walked two against the team that released him last autumn and took the loss when Hirata took Ryuji Yokoyama deep for his seventh home run of the year.
Tigers 9, Giants 6
At Koshien Stadium, Hanshin left-hander Daiki Enokida (4-5) held league-leading Yomiuri to a run in six innings, and the Tigers offense never let up, scoring in seven of the eight innings in which the hosts batted.
The win snapped a Tigers’ four-game losing streak to the Giants and pulled them to within 2 1/2 games of the CL lead.
BayStars 11, Swallows 4
At Yokohama Stadium, Yokohama delivered a seventh-inning knockout punch for the second straight night to demolish last-place Tokyo Yakult. A night after a seven-run seventh blew the lid off Tuesday’s game, the BayStars went one better, coming from a run down in the seventh with an eight-run onslaught that started after the first two batters were retired.
Two walks set the table for Kazunari Tsuruoka’s two-run go-ahead double and Tony Blanco highlighted the inning with his 30th home run, a three-run blast.