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Fighters end six-game slide with offensive outburst

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters rookie Shohei Otani wasn’t very good on Tuesday night, and the Chiba Lotte Marines’ Tomohisa Otani didn’t fare much better.

Neither of the dueling Otanis went home with a decision, but Shohei Otani’s teammates made sure he left QVC Marine Field the happier of the two.

Shogo Akada capped a four-run fifth inning with a tie breaking RBI double, Shota Ono and Daikan Yoh blew the game open with home runs in the ninth, and the Fighters added to Lotte’s recent struggles with a 9-5 win in front of a crowd of 27,904 in Chiba.

The Fighters snapped a six-game losing streak with the victory, while Lotte’s skid stretched to five straight defeats.

“It’s good that we were able to stop the losing streak,” Yoh said.

Michel Abreu paced with Fighters with four hits and an RBI.

“I’m feeling good,” Abreu said. “My timing is good and my condition is good. I feel better that we won than I do about the four hits. It feels good to win and we have to work hard to keep it going.”

Atsunori Inaba drove in a pair of runs and Eichi Koyano brought in two runs with a pair of sacrifice flies. Akada finished with two hits, including his RBI single in the fifth.

Ono, who was 3-for-5, hit his first home run of the season, a solo job, in the ninth, and Yoh added a two-run shot, his 15th of the year, later in the inning.

“I’m happy I was able to take advantage of my chances,” said Yoh, who finished 2-for-5.

Shohei Otani didn’t display much command in a shaky outing and walked a tightrope until the floodgates opened during the Marines’ five-run fourth inning.

It was the rookie’s worst outing of the season — Otani allowed five runs on four hits — but he was spared from taking the loss after the Fighters rallied to take the lead in the top of the fifth. The first-year hurler struck out three, walked three (once with the bases loaded) and hit a batter. He remained 2-0, but his ERA rose to 5.16.

“I didn’t have good balance and it was hard for me to find my rhythm,” the Fighters pitcher said. “I feel bad that I wasn’t able to pitch better.”

The Marines’ Otani was also charged with five runs — three coming in the fifth. He lasted four-plus innings, struck out three, walked one, and gave up eight hits.

“I gave up the run in the first inning, and I was trying to give up as few as possible,” Tomohisa Otani said. “I gave up the lead as soon as we got it. It’s regrettable.”

Takashi Ogino and Katsuya Kakunaka each finished with a pair of RBIs for the Marines. Hisao Heiuchi was also credited with an RBI after drawing a bases-loaded walk.

Yoh began the game with a double to center. Keiji Obiki then failed in his sacrifice bunt attempt, but Abreu lined a single into left that allowed Yoh to score the game’s first run.

Obiki led off the third with a double and advanced to third on a single by Abreu that put runners on the corners with no outs. A sacrifice fly by Koyano later gave the Fighters a 2-0 lead.

Shohei Otani struck out Toshiaki Imae to begin the fourth, but Craig Brazell followed with a double. Daichi Suzuki later drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and second, and Tomoya Satozaki was hit with a pitch to load the bases. Nippon Ham’s Otani then walked in Lotte’s first run of the game.

Things went from bad to worse for the rookie pitcher as Ogino plated two runs with a single to give Lotte a 3-2 lead.

“Everyone helped create a chance and I felt I needed to do something,” Ogino said

Kakunaka followed with a two-run double that made the score 5-2.

“I was waiting for something in the middle of the plate and he threw a cutter and that I was able to hit into a good place,” Kakunaka said.

The Marines’ Otani got a pair of quick outs to begin the top of the fifth then allowed three consecutive singles to load the bases before being taken out of the game.

Inaba singled off reliever Takahiro Fujioka to drive in a pair of runs and Koyano added another sacrifice fly that made the score 5-5. Nippon Ham then took the lead on Akada’s RBI double.

“No one on our team was about to give up, that’s the kind of feeling we had in the dugout,” Inaba said.

The score held until Ono and Yoh put the game away in the ninth with their home runs.

Buffaloes down Hawks

OSAKA
KYODO

Aarom Baldiris broke a 2-2 tie with a one-out solo drive in the sixth inning off Hayato Terahara (3-5) as the Orix Buffaloes went on to snap the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks’ four-game winning streak, earning a 4-3 decision on Tuesday in the Pacific League

Alessandro Maestri (4-2) allowed two runs and five hits in six innings of the win. Bryan LaHair hit a game-tying two-run blast in the fifth. Nobuhiro Matsuda’s solo shot with one out in the ninth was not enough for the Hawks, who returned to .500.

Eagles 9, Lions 4

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Tigers 8, Dragons 1

At Koshien Stadium, Randy Messenger threw 8-2/3 innings of one-run ball and got more than his fair serving of support as Hanshin walloped Chunichi.

Messenger (10-4) scattered 10 hits, struck out six and walked two before handing the baton to reliever Kosuke Kato to get the final out as the second-place Tigers ended a four-game skid. The right-hander notched double-digit wins for the third year in a row.

Takashi Toritani had a sacrifice fly to open the scoring.

Katsuhiko Saka hit in the leadoff spot in place of Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was deactivated the same day with pain in his left knee, and had a triple to right-center to start the home half of the first.

Toritani followed one out later with a fly to right to make it 1-0 for the Tigers, who were swept in three games in their previous series against the BayStars at home.

Ryota Imanari chipped in with a two-run triple before Ryota Arai capped a three-run sixth with an RBI single. A Kentaro Sekimoto two-run single keyed a four-run frame as Hanshin put the game out of reach in the seventh.

The Dragons lost their fourth straight.

Giants 4, Swallows 1

At Tokyo Dome, Shuichi Murata overturned a 1-0 deficit with a two-run double in the third inning and lefty Tetsuya Utsumi and the runaway Central-League leading Giants beat lowly Tokyo Yakult to improve to a season-high 22 games above .500.

Utsumi (8-4) limited the damage to one run and four hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked three.

Kentaro Nishimura fanned two in a perfect ninth to earn his 25th save. Orlando Roman (2-4) took the loss.

BayStars 6, Carp 1

At Mazda Stadium, Takehiro Ishikawa went 4-for-6 and Sho Aranami also had four hits in his team’s 17-hit onslaught as Yokohama downed Hiroshima to win its fourth in a row.

Tony Blanco opened the scoring with an RBI double off Bryan Bullington (4-9), his league-leading 96th RBI. Kota Suda (3-1) helped his own cause with an RBI single in the second and Hitoshi Tamura hit a solo drive with two outs for a 3-0 lead in the third.