CHIBA — Nate Minchey made sure things didn’t go the way the Seibu Lions had expected Friday night.

Minchey held the Lions to five hits in eight shutout innings in the Chiba Lotte Marines’ 6-1 victory to improve his record to 13-13 and leave Seibu one win away from their 19th Pacific League pennant.

It was a rare victory for the Marines, who have tallied a 6-17 record against the first-place Lions this season.

“Seibu’s a real good team, they’ve got a solid offense and defense,” said Minchey after the game at Chiba Marine Stadium. “So tonight was really nice, especially because the last time I pitched over at their place, they beat me up pretty bad.”

Seibu’s loss, combined with the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks’ win over the Nippon Ham Fighters, means the Lions’ Magic Number remains at 1.

Prior to the game, Seibu slugger Alex Cabrera said he felt optimistic, telling reporters, “I have a feeling this is going to be a good day.” He was partly right.

Cabrera scored the Lions’ only run with his 53rd home run, a solo shot off Lotte reliever Brian Sikorski in the top of the ninth inning. The Seibu slugger needs just three more homers in the next 15 games to break the single-season record held by Sadaharu Oh and Tuffy Rhodes.

But Cabrera had no solution for Minchey, going 0-for-3 against the Marines starter. Of course Minchey had a little extra motivation to win the game.

“Around the All-Star break, I think my record was around 5-11, so my goal was to get back to .500, and this is the first time all season I’ve been there,” he said.

“So it feels really nice. We got some lucky breaks and the guys scored enough runs so I could relax and pitch my game.”

One of those lucky breaks came in the third inning. Lotte shortstop Makoto Kosaka led off with a triple to right field and scored on a fielder’s choice when Seibu second baseman Hiroyuki Takagi hesitated to throw home.

In the fourth inning, Koichi Hori drew a two-out walk and advanced to third when Seibu starter Mitsutaka Goto’s pick-off throw to first sailed into foul territory. Kiyoshi Hatsushiba sent Hori home with a single to left field.

Frank Bolick led off the bottom of the sixth with a single for the Marines and scored on Derrick May’s triple to right field. May came home on Hori’s sacrifice fly and Hatsushiba gave Lotte a 5-0 lead with a 125-meter solo shot over the center-field fence.

May rounded out the scoring for the Marines with a home run in the eighth inning before a near capacity crowd of 30,000.

“Our fans came out in big numbers and it was a great atmosphere here,” said Minchey. “When we walked out onto the field, it almost felt like the first game of the World Series.”

Hawks 8, Fighters 1

Pedro Valdes belted a two-run homer in the top of the first inning to launch Daiei’s 12-hit batting attack as the Hawks downed Nippon Ham at the Tokyo Dome.

Yusuke Torigoshi, Nobuhiko Matsunaka and Hiroki Kokubo hit solo homers in the second, fifth and seventh, respectively.

Buffaloes 6, BlueWave 1

Kenshi Kawaguchi smashed a three-run homer off reliever Masafumi Hirai in the six-run seventh inning to highlight Kintetsu’s win over Orix at Green Stadium Kobe.


Tigers 4, Carp 2

Norihiro Akahoshi tripled in a tie-breaking run in the second inning with two outs and starter Keiichi Yabu (9-5) allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings to earn his first decision since July 16 for Hanshin’s win over Hiroshima at Koshien Stadium.

Giants 7, Swallows 1

Kazuhiro Kiyohara drove in two runs with a single in the five-run first inning to celebrate his return from a long injury layoff and Yoshinobu Takahashi hammered a solo homer in the third inning for Yomiuri’s win over Yakult at Jingu Stadium.

Dragons 1, BayStars 1 (12)

Yokohama starter Yuji Yoshimi allowed just one unearned run in 11 innings while Chunichi starter Kenta Asakura took a shutout into the eighth inning before he was struck by a line drive and had to leave the mound in their pitching duel at the Nagoya Dome.

Mirabel sidelined

Nippon Ham Fighters right- hander Carlos Mirabal has broken his right middle finger for the second time this sea son and will be out of action for the rest of the season, club officials said Friday.

Morita to retire

OSAKA — Kintetsu Buffaloes right-hander Koki Morita, who won the Pacific League’s “Comeback Award” last sea son after overcoming a brain tumor, said Friday he will re tire at the end of the season.

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