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Lions rout Marines, stretch winning streak to seven games

by

Staff Writer

The Seibu Lions and Chiba Lotte Marines traded errors and three-run half innings in the opening frame of their matchup on Friday night.

The Lions took care of everything after that.

Tomoya Mori nearly grazed the back wall with a solo home run in the third and connected on an RBI double during a three-run eighth as the roaring first-place Lions beat the Marines 9-3 at QVC Marine Field.

“It’s just the best feeling,” Mori said after the game.

Hideto Asamura, Takeya Nakamura and Ernesto Mejia each drove in a run in the first for Seibu, which extended its winning streak to seven.

“We’re going to try to win tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and do our best to keep it going,” Mori said.

Mori didn’t join the scoring party until the third, but ended up having the best night of all.

“He was getting some good swings and was able to get a home run, he really had a nice game,” Lions manager Norio Tanabe said.

The ball Mori crushed in the third was his seventh home run of the season, and the second-year star added a pair of doubles, in his final two at-bats of the night, also finishing with two RBIs.

Mori saw his batting average rise to .331 and the 19-year-old has driven in 20 runs so far this year.

“He’s an unbelievable hitter,” Mejia said. “For his age, he’s a really, really, good hitter, a power hitter. I think he believes in himself a lot, which is really good when you’re at the plate. I love him.”

Naoto Watanabe chipped in with a pinch-hit two-run double in the eighth. Lions outfielder Shogo Akiyama celebrated winning the season’s first Pacific League Monthly MVP award for hitters by going 3-for-6.

Seibu starter Kazuhisa Makita shook off a rocky start to improve to 4-1 with his second win over the Marines this season. Makita allowed three unearned runs in six-plus innings, striking out two and walking three.

Lotte starter Chen Kuan-yu (0-2) was never on the same page with catcher Yuta Yoshida, and a pair of mistakes by the battery helped lead to Seibu runs. Chen didn’t make it out of the second and took the lost after giving up four runs — two earned — in 1 1/3 innings.

Katsuya Kakunaka hit his first home run of the year in the loss, and Alfredo Despaigne drove in the Marines’ other two runs with a double in the first.

The Lions got to Chen almost from the very beginning.

Takumi Kuriyama drew a one-out walk in the top of the first and went to second on a passed ball during Asamura’s at-bat. Asamura made the Marines pay with an RBI single. Nakamura drove in Asamura with a single to left and Mejia added an RBI double to make the score 3-0.

The Marines battled back in the bottom half. Kakunaka got things started with his homer to left, and Luis Cruz and Toshiaki Imae followed with singles. That set the table for Despaigne, who doubled to left-center to tie the score at 3-3.

Yuji Kaneko drew a walk to begin the second and was later safe at second when Akiyama hit into a fielder’s choice that resulted in no outs. He later scored from second on a wild pitch to make the score 4-3.

Mori homered to right to make the score 5-3 in the third, and Kuriyama drove in a run with a single in the fourth.

Watanabe struck in the eighth, driving in two more runs with his double, and Mori put the icing on the cake with an RBI double that made it 9-3.

“We feel awesome,” Mejia said. “We’re hitting a lot. Our pitching is great, and we’re playing good defense. We’re combining those three things and things are going right. We just have to keep going. We still have a long season to go.”

Homers spark Hawks

KYODO

Lee Dae-ho and Nobuhiro Matsuda hit back-to-back homers to lead off the fourth inning and a three-run eighth put the game out of reach as the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks edged the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 5-3 on Friday night in the Pacific League.

Kazuo Matsui homered in the second and ninth, but it wasn’t enough for the Eagles.

Fighters 8, Buffaloes 3

At Osaka’s Kyocera Dome, Hokkaido Nippon Ham batted around in a four-run fourth inning en route to a 16-hit onslaught against Orix.

Sho Nakata opened the scoring with a sac fly in the first and drove in two runs. Mitsuo Yoshikawa (5-0) yielded three runs in 5-1/3 innings for the win.

CENTRAL LEAGUE
BayStars 6, Giants 5

At Yokohama Stadium, Shotaro Ide delivered a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning as first-place Yokohama came from behind to beat Yomiuri.

The on-fire BayStars won their sixth straight for the first time in eight years. Yomiuri lost its fourth in a row.

Takayuki Kajitani and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo had back-to-back, one-out singles and Aarom Baldiris was hit by lefty reliever Tetsuya Yamaguchi’s (1-2) pitch to load the bases with two outs, setting the stage for Ide’s live drive up the middle in front of 26,711 elated fans at Yokohama Stadium.

Yokohama starter Shoichi Ino left much to be desired after allowing four runs in 3-2/3 innings but the bullpen stitched it together for a win, with rookie fireman Yasuaki Yamasaki striking out three in the ninth to earn his 13th save. It was Yamasaki’s ninth consecutive save.

The BayStars overcame a 5-1 deficit, featuring Tsutsugo’s two-run double to move within one run in the fifth.

Leslie Anderson went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs for the Giants.

Carp 8, Tigers 3

At Koshien Stadium, Tsubasa Aizawa had a three-run double to key a five-run third inning against Shintaro Fujinami (1-4) in support of Takuya Toda (1-0), who threw two-run ball over six innings as last-place Hiroshima beat Hanshin.

The Tigers have won four straight for the first time this season.