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Buffaloes finally hang on to beat Lions

Kyodo

The Orix Buffaloes managed to hold onto a lead on Sunday, when closer Erik Cordier survived a rough ninth to earn his first save in a 5-4 win over the Seibu Lions.

Cordier, who blew a save in his debut on Friday, allowed one run, but escaped with the bases loaded as Orix earned its first win of the season, striking out No. 9 hitter Shuta Tonosaki to end it.

“Sometimes the first is the hardest,” said Cordier, who said he has a small adjustment to make.

“I’m fighting myself mechanically a little bit. I think it’s because of the regular season and the adrenaline coming up. That’s something you can’t simulate in spring training.”

After two days of losing leads of varying shapes and sizes at Seibu Prince Dome, Orix scored first, but gave its three early runs back. Starting pitcher Brandon Dickson, however, managed to leave with a lead after his teammates scored a run off Lions starter Andy Van Hekken in the fifth and another off reliever Kuo Chun-lin in the sixth.

Dickson allowed three runs, all earned, on eight hits and five walks over six innings. The 195-cm right-hander struck out seven.

“I definitely left too many balls up. I’ve been having problems with that lately,” said Dickson, whose knuckle curve was fooling hitters but who had trouble controlling his fastball.

The win came a year to the day after he allowed a run in seven innings here in a 1-0 opening-day loss.

“I didn’t win last year,” he said. “I’ll take the win.”

The Buffaloes got started in the first on a strange play. With one out and runners on first and second, Van Hekken had a shot to grab a chopper to the mound, but must have thought his fielders had a shot at a double play. Instead, the ball bounced into the outfield as Brent Morel reached on an RBI single.

Orix made it 3-0 in the second when Masahiro Nishino scored on a one-out single by Yoshio Itoi, and rookie leadoff man Masataka Yoshida scored the second of his three runs on a Morel sacrifice fly.

The Lions, however, found their way back. Ginjiro Sumitani’s two-out, second-inning infield single plated Hideto Asamura from third. The run needn’t have scored but Hiroyuki Nakajima, back at short for the first time in years, gave up on Sumitani’s bouncer, forcing second baseman Nishino to make a longer throw across his body from the edge of the outfield.

The Lions tied it in the third. Shogo Akiyama and Takumi Kuriyama reached on back-to-back singles. With one out, Dickson missed with an 0-2 breaking ball that Takeya Nakamura lined into left to make it 3-2.

Dickson then got too much of the plate with a first-pitch fastball that Asamura knocked into left to tie it.

Van Hekken allowed a run in the fifth on two walks, a single and a throwing error by Sumitani. A run-saving catch Kuriyama made against the left-field fence limited the damage.

Orix made it 5-3 in the sixth against Kuo. Yoshida reached when Sumitani was also fooled on a changeup for a third-strike wild pitch, and came home on Brian Bogusevic’s two-out single.

Tatsuya Sato and Yoshihisa Hirano each worked a scoreless inning in relief for the Buffaloes to get the lead to Cordier.

Fighters 1, Marines 0

At QVC Marine Field, Hokkaido Nippon Ham’s Kohei Arihara (1-0), who won last year’s PL Rookie of the Year Award largely due to the huge number of runs scored behind him, threw eight scoreless innings to outduel Chiba Lotte’s Jason Standridge (0-1), who struck out seven in seven innings.

Hawks 7, Eagles 0 (10)

At Kobo Stadium Miyagi, Fukuoka SoftBank’s Yuichi Honda and Seiichi Uchikawa singled in 10th-inning runs as the two-time defending Japan Series champ beat Tohoku Rakuten for its first win of the season. Prior to those runs, neither team had scored in the previous 13 innings.

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Giants 3, Swallows 2

At Tokyo Dome, Garret Jones hit his first homer in Japan, a come-from-behind two-run shot in the eighth inning as Yomiuri, under new skipper Yoshinobu Takahashi, completed a three-game sweep of CL champion Tokyo Yakult.

Tigers 5, Dragons 4

At Kyocera Dome, Matt Hague broke a 4-4 tie with a fifth-inning RBI single as Hanshin overcame another big game from new Chunichi first baseman, Dayan Viciedo, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, was hit by a pitch and homered for the third straight game.

Carp 6, BayStars 3

At Mazda Stadium, Tsubasa Aizawa tied it with a two-run, sixth-inning single as Hiroshima overcame a 3-0 deficit to take the rubber game of their three-game series from Yokohama.