NAGOYA — Daisuke Matsuzaka came through with another huge win.
the Japan Series on Sunday at Nagoya Dome. The Lions won 4-2 to send the best-of-seven series to a final game on Monday.
Matsuzaka struck out seven while giving up two runs on six hits over eight innings Sunday as the Seibu Lions defeated the Chunichi Dragons 4-2 in Game 6 of the Japan Series to force a decisive Game 7 on Monday.
Matsuzaka, who went 10-6 in the regular season, is arguably the best pitcher in Japanese baseball. He led Japan to a 6-3 win over gold medal winner Cuba at the Athens Olympics.
“We had our backs to the wall and I just tried to pitch with a sense of urgency,” said Matsuzaka, who picked up his first Japan Series win. “If they need me, I’m prepared to pitch tomorrow too.”
The right-hander took the loss in Game 2 of the series when he ran out of gas in the seventh inning and gave up eight runs. He didn’t let that happen this time and worked out of two-out, two-on jam in the eighth that silenced the crowd of 38,120.
Matsuzaka’s previous appearance in the Japan Series was in 2002 when the Yomiuri Giants swept the Lions but he was troubled with a bad back at the time.
“Matsuzaka pitched a great game for us,” said Seibu manager Tsutomu Ito. “It was huge for him to come into their building and pitch like that.”
Seibu closer Kiyoshi Toyoda retired the side in the ninth.
The Central League champion Dragons were looking to wrap up their first Japan Series title in 50 years but will have to wait until Monday’s game at Nagoya Dome for their next chance.
Outfielder Kazuhiro Wada provided the lion’s share of the offense for the Pacific League champion with a pair of homers and three RBIs.
Wada, who has four homers so far in the series, gave the Lions a 4-2 lead in the eighth with a solo shot to right off Chunichi reliever Eiji Ochiai.
Ito’s team rallied in the sixth when Alex Cabrera doubled to right to lead off the inning and Wada hit a towering two-run homer to left off Chunichi starter Masahiro Yamamoto to give the Lions a 3-2 lead.
“It was a slider up in the strike zone,” said Wada. “Daisuke was pitching a great game for us and I just wanted to give him some run support in that situation. Fortunately, I got all of it.
“It was important for us to get a little insurance in the eighth inning and I was happy that I was able to contribute. We will just have to come back tomorrow and do the same thing,” he added.
Chunichi manager Hiromitsu Ochiai then took Yamamoto out after Hiroshi Hirao hit a triple off the wall in right.
Yamamoto took the loss after giving up three runs on nine hits over five innings and striking out three while Toyoda got the save for Seibu after giving up one hit.
Shinya Okamoto came in and retired the side on strikeouts as the Lions left Hirao stranded at third base.
Chunichi grabbed a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Omar Linares hit a leadoff double to right. Seibu rightfielder Tomoaki Sato made a dive but the ball bounced off his glove and Linares was in standing up.
Motonobu Tanishige then hit a single to left and Linares advanced to third before scoring on a Kazuki Inoue single up the middle.
The Dragons tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the second when Linares walked, advanced to third on Tanishige’s single to left and then scored on Inoue’s high chopper to third.
The Lions got on the scoreboard in the first inning when leadoff hitter Sato singled and then scored on Cabrera’s single to left after advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.
“It was a slider on the inside part of the plate,” said Cabrera. “It fell in at the right place and in a game like this where there is no tomorrow, it was important for us to get the first run.”
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