TOKOROZAWA, Saitama Pref. — Orix BlueWave manager Hiromichi Ishige had the numbers crunched in his head. Team batting average against Seibu this year: a shabby .200. Lions’ top reliever Shinji Mori’s ERA against his squad this year: a perfect 0.00.

So what does Ishige tell his players in the top of the ninth, game tied 2-2, with a runner on first and none out? Bunt. Not once. Not twice. Three times.

“Well, I think we showed you can win ballgames with bunts,” said Ishige, whose team edged the Pacific League’s front-running Lions 3-2 on Saturday at the Seibu Dome, with the go-ahead run coming on a squeeze bunt. “Look at our statistics! In those situations, all we can do is bunt to win.”

That situation came with the game tied in the final frame, when Takeshi Hidaka led off the inning with a single to right. Ishige then ordered three consecutive bunts, all on the first pitch.

The third one clinched the game, as shortstop Makoto Shiozaki pushed a squeeze bunt toward second base. Mori, known for his nasty forkball, hurled a fastball high on the first pitch.

“I know (Mori) has the forkball, but the manager’s sign was to bunt on the first pitch,” said Shiozaki, who scored pinch-runner Daisuke Hayakawa for the winning run. “The only difference between Seibu and us is that they rarely make dumb mistakes. In that sense, I feel pretty good about what I did today.”

Mori took over from reliever Yoshihiro Doi (1-3), who gave up the single to Hidaka and took the loss.

Seibu starter Hsu Ming-chie, who won all four outings in August and has not lost since July 9, had trouble locating his slider and changeup from the get-go and disagreed with a number of calls by the plate umpire.

Although he escaped two bases-loaded jams, Hsu was a little unlucky in the fourth inning when Scott Sheldon got the BlueWave’s first single on a grounder that bounced off the bag at third base and ended up in left field.

With a 2-0 lead, Hsu then delivered a high changeup to Yuji Goshima, who deposited his fifth homer of the year into right-field stands to tie the game 2-2.

“The runner was on first, so I was just trying to pull the ball to make it first-and-third,” said Goshima, whose 120-meter homer was his third at the Seibu Dome this year.

Hsu gave up five hits and fanned seven in an up-and-down seven innings, but it was the BlueWave’s Yuuki Tanaka (3-1) who proved to be the better of the two starters after struggling early.

By the end of the third inning, the third-year pitcher had thrown 71 pitches. But the 23-year-old settled down and used the strike zone effectively, mixing a slow curve with a 145-kph fastball. He retired 12 straight batters from the fourth inning, finishing with six strikeouts and five hits in eight innings.

“I calmed down after my team tied the game for me,” Tanaka said.

Marines 7, Fighters 0 (6 1/3)

In Chiba, veteran infielder Koichi Hori hit a solo homer and had an RBI double, leading Lotte to a win in a rain-shortened game with Nippon Ham.

Lotte starter Nate Minchey (11-13) scattered seven hits over seven shutout innings to pick up the win after the game was called with one out in the bottom of the seventh because of rain.

Buffaloes 3, Hawks 2

At the Fukuoka Dome, Yuji Yoshioka hit a solo homer in the top of the ninth inning as Kintetsu beat Daiei to end a four-game losing streak.


Carp 4, Giants 3

At the Tokyo Dome, Yomiuri slugger Hideki Matsui hit his 42nd homer of the season, but Hiroshima prevailed in a seesaw battle over the CL leaders.

Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (9-8) went the distance on 146 pitches for the win, striking out triple crown hopeful Matsui in the sixth and eighth innings to preserve his victory.

Dragons 9, Swallows 2

At Jingu Stadium, Chunichi pounced on Yuya Kamada (3-2) for six runs in the first two innings and Kenta Asakura cruised to a complete-game victory over Yakult.

Tigers 4, BayStars 1

At Koshien Stadium, Shinjiro Hiyama hit a solo homer and Katsuhiko Yamada connected for a two-run blast in the fourth inning to lift Hanshin over Yokohama.

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