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Hara delivers game-winning double in 10th against Lions

by Jason Coskrey

Staff Writer

The Orix Buffaloes just keep finding ways to win games early in the season.

Orix lost the lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and took it back on Takuya Hara’s tie-breaking RBI double in the 10th to edge the Seibu Lions 2-1 on Friday night at Seibu Dome.

“You just have to take it pitch-by-pitch in a game like this,” Buffaloes manager Hiroshi Moriwaki said. “That’s what we did yesterday as well,” he said, referring to Orix’s come-from-behind 7-5 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in Kobe on Thursday.

The Buffaloes had to rally from four runs down to win that game. On Friday, they found a way to prevail in a duel between aces that quickly turned into a battle of the bullpens.

For awhile it looked as if Wily Mo Pena’s solo homer in the second would be all the offense Orix would need with ace Chihiro Kaneko on the mound.

Kaneko wasn’t at his best, but still managed to pitch himself out of a few jams and keep Seibu off the board. Seibu’s Takayuki Kishi held up his half of the bargain and kept the Lions within striking distance with eight innings of one-run ball. Kishi struck out eight and allowed five hits.

Kaneko struck out nine, allowed eight hits and walked three over 7 1/3 shutout innings in his 128-pitch outing. Kaneko, who struck out 14 in his last start against the Lions, has thrown 16 1/3 scoreless innings in two starts against the Saitama club this season.

That streak was in jeopardy when he left the mound with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth. Moriwaki summoned reliever Motoki Higa to get Orix out of the jam, and the right-hander did his part with a pair of ground ball outs to end the inning.

Closer Yoshihisa Hirano retired the first batter he faced in the ninth, but gave up a single to Hichori Morimoto, who was lifted for pinch runner Shogo Saito.

Saito went to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI double by Takumi Kuriyama later in the inning.

Orix didn’t allow the tie to stay in place very long.

Outfielder Tomotaka Sakaguchi led off the top of the 10th with a triple and trotted home on Hara’s double to center.

Hirano (1-0) blew the save but ended up being credited with the win. Ken Togame (0-2) was the losing pitcher. Tatsuya Sato picked up his first save of the year.

Hara, Pena and Sakaguchi led the Buffaloes with two hits apiece. Pena’s second-inning homer was his Pacific League-leading ninth of the season.

“It was a long game,” Pena said. “But we came out with the victory, so it was a good game.”

Eagles rout Fighters

Sendai KYODO

Tohoku Rakuten’s 2013 PL Rookie of the Year Takahiro Norimoto threw his first career shutout in the Golden Eagles’ 12-0 win over the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters on Friday.

Norimoto (3-1) scattered six hits, struck out eight and walked none. Rakuten led 10-0 after a seven-run fourth inning.

Hawks 2, Marines 2 (12)

At Chiba’s QVC Marine Field, Fukuoka Softbank took an early 2-0 lead, but Chiba Lotte scored two in the ninth on Shoitsu Omatsu’s double and Saburo Omura singled to tie it and force extra innings.

CENTRAL LEAGUE
Giants 5, Dragons 3

At Tokyo Dome, Toshiya Sugiuchi pitched two-run ball over seven innings, Hisayoshi Chono hit a three-run homer and Yomiuri beat Chunichi.

Sugiuchi (1-1) needed plenty of run support as he struggled with his command at times, but there was just enough in the tank to lead his team to its third win in a row and the lefty’s first win of the season.

On a night in which Giants jerseys, handed out to spectators in commemoration of the team’s 80th anniversary, filled the seats in a sea of orange, Yomiuri scored early for a big lead in front of a crowd of 46,041 at Tokyo Dome.

Shuichi Murata drew a leadoff walk in the second and Jose Lopez and Chono followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases. With one out, Seiji Kobayashi, catching in place of captain Shinnosuke Abe, who had the day off, drove in the opening run on a single to right.

Yomiuri took another helping in the second, Yasuyuki Kataoka leading off with a single to left and stealing second before Cuban Leslie Anderson lined a single to center to make it 2-0. Murata reached on an error, and one out later, Chono went deep with a high arcing ball that cleared the wall to reach the vistor’s cheering section in left.

The Dragons got a short-lived rally going in the fourth, when Masahiko Morino doubled to left-center with two outs and scored on Kazuhiro Wada’s ground single up the middle. Morino, who went 3-for-5, had a leadoff drive in the seventh for his first homer of the year.

Kentaro Nishimura pitched two innings of one-run ball to pick up his fifth save. Dragons starter Toshiya Okada (1-2) was tagged for five runs and seven hits in four innings. Pinch hitter Michihiro Ogasawara got a standing ovation from the crowd when he singled with a runner on first and one out in the ninth against his former team to put runners at the corners before Yohei Oshima’s RBI single gave Chunichi its third run.

Giants ace Tetsuya Utsumi, who is 0-2 with a 4.41 ERA in three games thus far, will start Saturday’s game while Yudai Ono, also 0-2, will start for Chunichi in another battle of left-handers.

Tigers 4, Swallows 2

At Koshien Stadium, Tigers captain Takashi Toritani drove in two runs on a 3-for-3 night as Hanshin downed Tokyo Yakult in the opener of a three-game set.

Lefty Atsushi Nomi (3-1) yielded two runs on five hits in 6-2/3 innings to defeat 2013 CL Rookie of the Year Yasuhiro “Ryan” Ogawa (3-1), who left after 1-2/3 innings due to injury.

Carp 11, BayStars 2

At Yokohama Stadium, Shota Dobayashi had a tiebreaking solo drive in the fifth inning and Central League-leading Hiroshima added insurance with shots from Brad Eldred and Yoshiyuki Ishihara’s two-run blast as the Carp downed Yokohama for its third straight win.

Hiroshima lefty Jumpei Shinoda (1-1) limited the damage to two runs on four hits in five innings for the win. BayStars starter Daisuke Miura (0-2) was roughed up for six runs in six shaky innings for Yokohama, which lost its fifth in a row.