SENDAI – Craig Brazell came off the bench to lift the Chiba Lotte Marines to their first win of the Pacific League Climax Series Final Stage in Friday’s Game 2, a 4-2 victory over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 10 innings.
Brazell, who had driven in the game’s first run earlier in the game, went deep to lead off the 10th inning moments after the Eagles momentarily staved off defeat on a dramatic ninth-inning home run by Andruw Jones.
The Eagles, who received a one-win advantage as league champions, have a 2-1 lead after ace Masahiro Tanaka won Thursday’s opener. They can advance to the Japan Series with two more wins.
Jones tied it 1-1 with a one-out homer in the bottom of the ninth off Tatsuya Uchi, Lotte’s fourth pitcher of the night.
A single followed, but the right-hander pushed the game into extra-innings. Brazell led off against lefty Norihito Kaneto and pulled a 3-2 cutter just fair down the right-field line. With one out, Shunichi Nemoto singled in men from second and third off lefty Kohei Hasebe, the Eagles’ third pitcher of the inning.
Uchi allowed a two-out solo homer to Ryo Hijirisawa in the bottom of the 10th, but held on to finish the game.
Eagles rookie Takahiro Norimoto started and allowed a run in nine innings, while striking out 11. The right-hander gave up four hits and hit a batter in an enthralling duel with Marines veteran Seth Greisinger before 24,097 at Kleenex Stadium. Greisinger shrugged off the shoulder trouble that has plagued him all season to throw six scoreless innings.
The Marines broke the ice with a run in the top of the seventh.
With one out and runners on the corners, Brazell drove in the run with a one-out smash back to the mound that Norimoto fumbled and was unable to turn into an inning-ending double play.
The Marines had opened the inning with back-to-back singles by Tadahito Iguchi and Toshiaki Imae on Norimoto’s fastballs that flattened out. Katsuya Kakunaka popped out after a poor at-bat. Norimoto fell behind Brazell, but dug deep before getting the notorious bad-ball hitter to hack at a forkball outside.
The pitcher got his glove on the bullet, but the ball rolled away and Norimoto had to hustle to get the out at first as Iguchi scored.
Greisinger allowed four hits but no walks while striking out five. He had been hammered in his two previous PL starts in September but had rehabbed in preparation for the postseason.
Carlos Rosa worked the seventh for Lotte and closer Naoya Masuda followed in the eighth. Each worked a scoreless inning despite walking the leadoff hitter.