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Shuta Tonosaki provides spark for Lions with glove, bat in comeback win over Marines

Kyodo

The Pacific League-leading Seibu Lions defeated the Chiba Lotte Marines 9-8 on Friday, rallying from behind in the late innings for the second straight game.

Seibu’s Shuta Tonosaki made the difference with his bat and glove to spark the Lions to victory on a night when lefty star Yusei Kikuchi was proving very hittable.

Tonosaki tied it 3-3 in the sixth with a two-run homer and then snuffed out a Marines rally in the eighth. With two outs and the bases loaded, the Lions right fielder made a diving catch on a sinking liner to save at least one run and leave Seibu with just a 5-3 deficit heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Lotte got plenty of good swings against Kikuchi (4-0), who allowed five runs in eight innings. Although he only allowed five hits, three walks and a hit batsman, the damage could have been much worse without the fielding heroics of Tonosaki and shortstop Sosuke Genda.

With the Lions trailing 3-1 in the sixth, Tonosaki belted a two-run homer off reliever Tomohisa Otani after an error extended the Lions’ inning. Tonosaki’s drive easily cleared the fence in center at MetLife Dome.

“I was surprised by that, since I don’t often hit them that well even in practice games,” Tonosaki said of his second home run of the season.

Kikuchi, however, threw the Marines a life line in the eighth, when he loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batsman. Seiya Inoue, whose fourth-inning home run had made it a 2-0 game, put the visitors ahead with a two-run single. After a walk reloaded the bases, Ikuhiro Kiyota’s two-out liner threatened to add to Lotte’s tally. Tonosaki, however, intervened.

“I was playing shallow because staying back wouldn’t have helped in that situation and I just went after it as hard as I could,” Tonosaki said.

In the bottom of the inning, former Texas Ranger Tanner Scheppers then issued a pair of one-out walks, and Tomoya Mori reached on his third infield single of the game. One run scored when Tonosaki grounded out, and the tying run scored on a throwing error. A walk and a Takumi Kuriyama pinch-hit single put the hosts in front for good.

The Lions tacked on three more runs in the inning, allowing them to survive a three-run Lotte ninth. On Wednesday, the Lions wrapped up their two-game series with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in a 9-8 win after overturning an 8-0, eighth-inning deficit.

Lotte starter Mike Bolsinger allowed two runs — both unearned — over five innings. He gave up four hits and walked three, while striking out four.

Eagles 5, Buffaloes 2

At Sendai’s Rakuten Seimei Park, Motohiro Shima’s three-run double capped a sixth-inning Tohoku Rakuten rally that overturned a 2-1 Orix lead and started with two outs.

Eigoro Mogi’s bases-loaded walk tied it and Shima cleared the bases to make a complete-game winner out of Takahiro Norimoto (2-1).

Fighters 2, Hawks 1

At Sapporo Dome, former Texas Ranger right-hander Nick Martinez (2-2) scattered seven hits over eight innings to outduel Fukuoka SoftBank’s Shota Takeda (0-2).

CENTRAL LEAGUE

Giants 8, Tigers 2

At Koshien Stadium, Yomiuri ace Tomoyuki Sugano (2-2) allowed six hits without a walk in a complete-game effort, while Hanshin righty Shintaro Fujinami (0-1) allowed six runs on nine hits and six walks over five innings to take the loss.

Dragons 11, Carp 7

At Nagoya Dome, Hiroshima reliever Ren Nakata (0-1) allowed seven hits in a seven-run seventh inning to waste his team’s five-run rally in the top of the inning and take the loss against Chunichi.